“Dad! My skin matches your skin”, four-year-old Mitchell grabs his father’s hand as they wait in line at the local supermarket. “But look, dad!” Mitchell shouts, “His skin is like chocolate milk!”
If you are the parent of a preschooler, like the dad in the scenario above, you may have experienced your child’s natural observations and curiosity about cultural diversity. Although children’s observations and questions about the ways in which we are diverse maybe embarrassing or uncomfortable for you as a parent, know that children’s curiosity is developmentally appropriate and should be welcomed with open conversations and opportunities to explore together their interest and questions.
Children today live in communities that reflect the diversity of our American society. They interact with other families and children who are from different cultures, speak different languages, or may have a special need. Children also see images of diversity each day in books, toys, and cartoon characters. When you consider how diversity in gender, ability, language, culture, and ethnicity is all around us, it is not unexpected that young children, are very curious and excited about learning from the diverse world and people around them.
For this reason, parents have the opportunity to support children’s natural interests and curiosity by exploring with them their own unique culture as well as those represented in the local community.
Cultural Diversity In The Family
Start first with your own cultural diversity within your family. Create or share a family photo album with your child, discussing your heritage and places around the country or where members of your family are from or have traveled to.
Cultural Diversity In The Home
Complete a visual scan of your home environment. Does your home reflect the diversity of the community and country in which you live? Try a new recipe from another culture, listen to a different musical genre, or expose your child to books, toys, and puzzles that are non-sterotypical and represent affirming and positive images of the cultural group.
For more information on ways you can enhance or spark your child’s curiosity about cultural diversity visit our website and explore the Cultural Diversity topic area.
LISA POPPE, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD
This article was previously published for Nebraska Extension by Lisa as a PDF. It is re-published here with her permission.
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