Children are some of the most open-minded people you’ll ever encounter. All you need to do is expose them to other identities so they can understand how other people live. Different is not bad, and while a child may be unsure about how to treat differences at first, you can guide them in the right direction by teaching them about inclusivity from a young age. Try these techniques to help transform how your child — and maybe even the rest of their school — looks at uniqueness and differences.
Reading books might seem like a simple start, but they can make a world of difference to a young mind. Books can help children form their own identities, which can help them understand other people on a more personal and deeper level. Media can help children understand inclusivity on a fundamental level, making books an excellent place to start teaching your children about diversity and why it should be celebrated.
A great way to demonstrate inclusivity to your child is to have them personally invite everyone in their class to a party. Inviting everyone ensures that nobody is left out due to any differences they may have from the rest of the class. Your child may not want to invite students they’re not friends with, but urging them to extend the invitation to everyone ensures that nobody gets left out — and it will also teach your child the importance of including others in their fun.
You can model empathy for your child by showing them that caring for others should be a major priority, which they will soon understand as they help out others. Make sure your child knows that there are no stupid questions regarding inclusivity and diversity.
Create a trusting space where they can come to you with their questions, and they can learn empathy and inclusion from you. Of course, you can admit when you don’t know the answer to something. Then, perhaps you and your child can learn the answer together.
If you have any power over your child’s school, advocate for more inclusive play spaces. Add ramps to areas that may only have stairs so that wheelchairs and other mobility aids can traverse the play areas unhindered. You may also call for a spinning whirl with ground-level access so that kids with wheelchairs can still enjoy the fun of the ride. Opting for playground equipment that can cater to disabilities is a great way to make every child feel welcome during their favorite time of day.
Volunteer to be responsible for planning things like field trips and parties for your child’s class. As a class parent, you’ll have some say in what the class should see, learn about and experience. Advocate for learning other points of view so that everyone in your child’s class has the opportunity to experience a way of life or identity they aren’t used to.
Learning about and celebrating differences, whether identity or culture, is an important part of teaching children to empathize and get along with others. Personally getting involved in your child’s class can give you the opportunity to have a hand in what they see and experience. Plus, it would be fun to collaborate with the other parents on something enjoyable for all your children.
Different cultures all around the world celebrate different holidays. Some kids in your child’s class might celebrate something your child doesn’t. Instead of insisting that your child’s holiday is the superior one, you can teach your child about what their classmates might celebrate.
Teaching your child about holidays they don’t necessarily celebrate can help them build an awareness of other cultures and teach them about people who are different. Your child may take an interest in learning more about other cultures, starting with learning about the most important days.
How can you educate your child effectively if you don’t know everything yourself? Continuously look for resources to better educate yourself on how you can champion inclusivity. Doing so may include learning new vocabulary and retiring old terms that no longer fit well. If you remain educated on other cultures and identities, you can better synthesize that information and communicate it to your child in a way they’ll understand.
By allowing your child to experience diversity in all its forms, they’ll better understand how other people live and any potential struggles they may go through. While they might not be able to empathize with every situation completely, they’ll realize that differences are to be celebrated and to be kind to everyone, no matter their identity or background. Watching your child grow into a well-rounded adult ready to help the world is one of the best parts of inclusive parenting.
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