Kids notice differences. As the world becomes increasingly small, it is essential to show children that it feels good to value the things that make a person different.
I once heard of an extremely creative activity that a 1st grade teacher did with her class. She asked parents to send a tiny piece of hair from each of her students. The teacher pasted each one on an index card and put them in a box. Then the kids drew them out, one by one, and discussed the differences. What color was it? Was it straight or curly? Coarse or fine?
That little exercise speaks loudly…. "It's fun to explore differences!"
Research shows that after age 9, racial attitudes tend to stay the same unless there is a life-changing experience. The more awareness of different groups of people leads to greater acceptance, and prevents ethnic stereotypes.
We need to allow children to see outside of their own little worlds!
Here's a few ideas to help open up new worlds for your child and start a great discussion:
1. Learn about traditional celebrations from other cultures
2. Listen/sing/dance to music of a different culture
3. Read a story or see a movie from another country
4. Eat food from other cultures
5. Visit a cultural museum
6. Look at the atlas
7. Create art using techniques from another culture
8. Visit a place of worship that is different from yours
These activities can help kids visualize how other people live, cultivating cultural understanding. Don't forget to talk about what was experienced and how they felt afterwards!