Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Celebrating Diversity by Emily Patterson (Guest Post)

Celebrating Diversity with Your Child

“We live in a diverse world. By teaching children to appreciate other cultures from an early age, you will help them develop compassion and seek out shared values,” said Dr. Mary Zurn (V.P. of education at Primrose Schools and child care services). “Encourage a celebration of cultures near and far, including your own, to help your child grow to be an accepting, compassionate adult, who values the differences in others.”

A preschooler’s concept of the world is relatively small and concrete, limited primarily to their family, neighborhood and school. Help your child expand their world view by learning about different cultures through music, sports and even wildlife around the world, things that they can easily relate to because they have them too. You will help spark your child’s understanding of the vast size and rich texture of our global community.

And while explaining the concept of “diversity” to your young child may feel a tad too complex of a lesson, by focusing on celebrating cultural differences, you can make an important lesson fun and natural.  Here are a few tips to help:

Share Your Family History. Understanding others begins with an understanding of oneself. Show pictures of family members and talk about each person. Children love and remember stories, so share a favorite story or something you personally remember about that person. This builds a child’s awareness of family history and culture.

Read a Book. Reading to a child is one of the best ways to introduce them to different types of families, children and people from all over the world. Characters and storylines are great starting points for discussions on diversity as they can make a culture come to life. Look for books that have characters your child can identify with even though they may have different customs. Some suggestions include:
·         It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
·         Children from Australia to Zimbabwe: A Photographic Journey Around the World by Maya Ajmera and Anna Rhesa Versola
·         The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf

Themed Trips and Nights. Take a trip to a restaurant or museum where you can show and teach your child the differences in cultures. Or even better plan a themed night at home.  Play music, cook food and learn dances or activities that kids in different culture take part in.  By completely immersing your child in the culture, they will have an easier time understanding and learning.

Think Outside the Box. Seek out opportunities for your child to interact with children from different countries and cultures. Getting to know families that are different from your own can increase your family’s appreciation of cultural similarities and differences. Visit museums, festivals, ethnic restaurants and other places that will help your child learn about various customs, cultures and lifestyles.

With these tips in mind, sit down with your family and come up with the best way to teach your young children about the importance of diversity.  Every family and child is different and that's the best part about it all.
For over 25 years, Primrose Schools has helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early childhood, education.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially.  Emily Patterson is currently working as a communications coordinator for Primrose Schools providing written work to the blogosphere which highlights the importance, and some of the specific aspects, of a quality early child care education.

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