How to Teach Kids About Diversity and Acceptance
At a young age, society teaches young children to recognize all types of differences between one another. That said, while at the end of the day we are all simply human, there is an abundance of diversity embedded in each person’s different backgrounds, and that diversity is something to be appreciated and celebrated. When it comes to teaching children about diversity and acceptance, there are a number of diversity activities for kids that are beneficial in their understanding of cultural awareness. Read on to find out what these diversity activities are and how to use them to introduce your child to learning and accepting all of the beautiful diversity that surrounds them.
What Is Diversity?
Before we dive into diversity activities, it is important that your child has a base understanding of what the term diversity means. Here is a clear, yet child-friendly diversity definition for kids that you can use when explaining the term:
Diversity: Difference(s) between two or more things.
- Diversity in plants include trees, bushes, flowers, grass, etc.
- Diversity in dogs include big dogs, small dogs, long haired dogs, short-haired dogs, etc.
- Similarly, in people things such as race and skin color, religion, age, disabilities, etc. make us different from one another and add to the diversity of the world
Diversity Activities for Kids
The following activities are a great way to begin developing a sense of acceptance and appreciation for different cultures in the world around us:
Create Artwork from Another Culture
One way to learn about other cultures and explore cultural diversity deeper is to have your young children learn about and create artwork from another culture. Art has reflected the core values of different cultures for centuries and is a great way to learn more about other groups of people. Here are a few simple and culturally-rich arts and crafts ideas:
- Dreamcatchers (American-Indian)
- Origami (Japanese)
- Rangoli sand art (Indian)
- Paper mache maracas (Carribean and Latin)
When it comes to arts and crafts from other cultures, the options are seemingly endless. One way to narrow down on art activities is to select a different country or a culture that your child wants to learn more about and find out what culture-filled arts and crafts they take part in themselves!
Go On Virtual Field Trips
Another great diversity activity for children is going on virtual field trips. Traveling can require quite a bit of time and money, however, with today’s technology, children have the ability to explore the world around them right from their own home.
From YouTube videos to Google Map’s street view feature, your child can see how people live in various parts of the world without leaving their home. A fun way to explore this virtual type of travel is to search for kids travel videos on YouTube, or simply drop a pin anywhere in the world on Google Maps and go for a “virtual walk” through an unfamiliar neighborhood. Not only will this act as a fun way to explore cultural differences, it may even ignite your child’s desire to travel and experience the diversity in the world as they get older.
Drive Through a Different Neighborhood
While traveling far away via technology will undoubtedly shed light on a wide range of diversity and traditions, it is also important to recognize that diversity can be found in your town’s backyard. That said, driving through a culturally divergent neighborhood with your children is a beneficial way to teach them about diversity.
Consider driving through a town with a different socio-economic community than your family’s, or even a town that is highly populated with a culture that is different than what your child has been raised around. In doing so, your child will be able to notice differences and see the diversity before their eyes.
Cook Food from Other Cultures
Similar to art activities, cooking food from other cultures is a great way to highlight diversity and cultural differences. Food is one of the most important aspects of culture and making culturally-rich dishes can be a fun activity for you and your child to take part in together.
As an activity, let your child choose a culture they are interested in learning more about and make one of the culture’s popular dishes. As you are making the dish, you can listen to the culture’s music to fully embrace and celebrate diversity in the process.
Diversity and Inclusion
No matter how you choose to teach your children about diversity and acceptance, you can guarantee that each of the activities listed above will help them learn to appreciate culture in the world around them. Talking to kids about racism and incorporating social justice lesson plans are important parts of teaching diversity. Not only do these activities expand their knowledge and understanding of multicultural themes in early childhood, but this gives you an opportunity to learn and grow with your child as well.
Teaching your children about diversity goes hand in hand with inclusion. If, for any reason, you feel that your child has experienced exclusion based on their cultural diversity, Children’s Bureau offers a variety of resources for children between the ages of 0-21. With individually customized mental health services, there is support available for every child in need.
Susan J. Wood, Former Director of Mental Health
Susan J. Wood, LMFT was the Director of Mental Health at Children’s Bureau and has over 20 years of experience working with children in a community mental health setting. She joined Children’s Bureau in 2015 as a Program Manager in the Antelope Valley and became the program director in June 2018 where she was instrumental in opening and expanding mental health services to the Santa Clarita Valley and Long Beach.