Develop rich, meaningful relationships with children and adults from all walks of life.
If you live in an urban community, your child is probably exposed daily to a diverse group of people. If, on the other hand, you live in a suburban or rural area, your child's more likely to grow up with people who look and think just like you. Creating a diverse environment in these circumstances doesn't require monumental effort. If you appreciate diversity of thought and culture, you'll naturally seek out friendships and experiences that cultivate diversity. Simply live the adventurous life and let your toddler be part of it.
1Invite neighbors over for dessert, join a mother's group or make friends with other families from swimming lessons or story hour at the library. Look for opportunities to serve. Take soup to a sick neighbor or shovel snow from an elderly neighbor's sidewalk. These little moments teach your child the value of creating a sense of community, wherever you are. Welcome people from a variety of backgrounds into your life. If you embrace diversity, your toddler likely will, too.
2Strike up brief conversations with your bank teller, the grocery clerk, your mail carrier or your hair dresser. Your toddler is watching these exchanges and learning how to converse with and respect all people, so get to know the people in your community who provide services.
3Enroll your toddler in a preschool that promotes diversity. The ultra-exclusive (and ultra-expensive) child care center offering tennis and French lessons probably won't fit the bill. Instead, look for a preschool backed by a university or even preschools associated with school districts, such as Head Start. These schools usually draw a more diverse crowd because they offer free services for children with special needs as well as disadvantaged kids.
4Visit urban playgrounds, museums or libraries to venture out of your own neighborhood if you live in a suburban area. When you travel, ditch the tourist scenes and get to know local culture instead.
5Select books and toys that reflect a wide variety of cultures. Picture books, such as "Too Many Tamales," by Gary Soto and "Feast for 10" by Cathryn Falwell, are two classic children's books that illustrate traditional cultures in warm, inviting ways. Leo Lionni, Eric Carle, Eve Bunting, Mem Fox and Ezra Jack Keats are beloved children's authors, known for their gentle lessons on acceptance and diversity.
- Most young children don't notice or care about differences in culture or skin color. If your child does ask questions, answer them directly and honestly. Avoid stereotypes and if you don't know the answer to a question, say so.We tend to think of diversity appreciation as an understanding of differences in ethnic or cultural groups, but even within your own family, you'll find differences in goals, values and traditions. Cultivating an appreciation of diversity starts by accepting and respecting those closest to us.