Unity in diversity: How do we teach kids to appreciate differences around them?
How many families around you have lived in one city their entire lives, having roots where they are since generations? Chances are, not too many!
Today, we rarely even complete our education in the same town or city. We move for work, for better opportunities, or because the world is a global village and exploring it is how we grow.
This means that we are constantly surrounded by diversity and our children are exposed to all kinds of differences from a young age. In a country as vast and diverse as India, being able to empathize with and appreciate differences is key to adapting and thriving.
So on the cusp of our 75th Independence Day, let's look at how can we equip our little ones to understand and appreciate the world around them better!
What does "freedom" mean to a child? How does it factor into their play? Read this blog to find out.
6 simple ways to help your child understand diversity
Fortunately, children are not born with a predisposed inclination to any culture, language, food, or tradition. They will be accepting of whatever they are taught to be accepting about. But it's important to bring these conversations up in a timely manner to ensure that your little one is not overwhelmed or confused.
So in this blog, we've put together some everyday situations that you can use as conversation starters on diversity. Read on to find out!
1. Notice the differences around home
Different languages, food habits, and clothes — no matter where we live, we see these in our lives every day. Your neighbor in the next apartment may have another mother tongue and may celebrate different festivals than you do. This could even be the case right at home, where you and your partner come from different religious or cultural backgrounds.
Don't shy away from pointing these out to your children. Instead, use them as opportunities to have conversations with them about the differences they see on a daily basis. Note the commonalities in these difference — how Tamil and Kannada have many similar words, or how you decorate the house and give gifts on Eid, Christmas, and Diwali!
2. Introduce diversity in everyday choices
Diversity is what lets you have a dosa one day and a pizza the next. Or what lets you wear kurta-pajama with the same confidence as you would a pair of trousers and a shirt. Introduce variety in your child's palate and wardrobe so they have a hands-on way to enjoy diversity.
If you usually speak one language at home, you could make a conscious decision to teach your child a second language. Explain to them how this will help them talk to more people, watch films in a new language, or read books in it, all of which will make their lives richer and more interesting!
3. Diversify the playroom
Children learn about the world through play. Which is why it's important to have toys that make room for the possibilities they may encounter in their lives.
From gender neutral Peg Dolls of different skin tones and body types to Globetrotter Twisties with regionally specific attires which your child can mix and match, there are many toys that open up room for interesting conversation around such differences!
Games and toys specific to Indian culture are also excellent to get your child interested in our country. Our Indiascape games have state-themed snap cards, a floor puzzle illustrating India's map, memory games, and more!
4. Travel is great exposure
It might be difficult to imagine a house on bamboo stilts if you have lived only in apartments, but a trip to the northeast of India will take away the need to imagine and provide a new perspective on housing! When we travel, we learn about the geography of a place as well as about the people and culture there.
Use your family vacations and weekend trips as a way to talk about the diversity you observe. Return with new recipes, vocabulary, and traditions!
Travelling with a toddler sometime soon? These 11 games could be life savers!
5. Explore and learn through books
Reading is a great way to discover all kinds of things, including diversity. Try including books of different languages and from different countries in your child's library. Do read-alouds, look up places online, and discuss the names and foods you come across in the books.
On the flip side, make sure you also have contemporary Indian children's books on your child's shelf. These not only make excellent reads, but are important for your little one to see themselves and their friends reflected in the stories they grow up with.
6. Celebration is key
Festivals are the perfect settings to celebrate diversity as they are filled with games, gifts, and delicious dishes! Be it Diwali, Holi, Eid, or Christmas, we have a chance to enjoy the beauty of different religious traditions across India. Whether you attend a different festival at your neighbour's home or invite them over for your celebrations, the opportunity will be a valuable lesson in diversity for your child.
Story books and toys are great ways to learn about India's cultural heritage. Check out our Ramayana combo or Little Krishna combo for some fun + learning!
As we get more integrated into the global village, it’s simply smart parenting to ensure that our kids are well adjusted global citizens. So tell us, how do you talk to your children about diversity? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!