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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

9 Ways to Encourage Respect for Diversity Through Play

Photo by trilemedia (pixabay)


Exposing young children to the idea of diversity and helping them to have respectful conversations about race, religion, and personal identity can be challenging; after all, even adults struggle with some of these concepts. Most parents already know the best way to engage their children is through play, and introducing the concept of respecting diversity is no different. Play is an amazing way to teach our kids many things, including how to be respectful and appreciative of our differences.

Start With the Toy Box

Most kids like to play with dolls and toys that look like them, but it's important to make sure that your collection of dolls reflects the reality of our world today. The dolls should have a variety of skin tones and reflect different cultural traditions. Additionally, go beyond dolls to incorporate toys from other cultures into your kids' toy rotation.

Diversify Your Bookshelf

Books should be windows into worlds, lives, and experiences very different from your own. Make sure the books on your kids' shelves aren't only mirrors that reflect lives much like you and your kids live. Seek out authors of different races and nationalities to expose them to different backgrounds. A lot of kids and adults tend to default to reading authors who look like them and stories about people like them. Creating a diverse bookshelf early on will help to ensure that your kids always have a rich and varied reading life.

Spin the Globe

One fun game children of all ages enjoy is the globe-spinning game. As you spin the globe, have your child place their finger on the globe to stop it. Whatever country they land on is the next one you'll explore. You could watch videos, try foods, or find books about this region at the library.

Try Music From Around the World

Music that once would have been hard to find is now available online with a few clicks. Find some modern music created by musicians from other cultures, and check out traditional music from around the globe as well.

Visit Museums

Museums can expose children to art and cultures beyond their own. A little preparation can allow your children to really immerse themselves in the experience. Trying food from cultures represented in the museum and reading storybooks before you go can help them build a context for what they will see. After your museum visit, try to create art or crafts like what you just saw.

Support Free Play

Play is a vital way for children to work through the ideas and concepts of diversity. However, children's playtime is under constant pressure. It's important to deliberately choose to create ample time and space for children's imaginative play. Scheduling in unscheduled time allows kids to experience unrushed playtime to work out their feelings and thoughts and become more competent and resourceful people.

Role-Play

Helping kids learn how to have difficult conversations and navigate challenging situations successfully is an important (but difficult) part of parenthood. Reading books or watching videos in which kids hear racist or other derogatory language lets kids think about how it feels to be in those situations, but role-playing after such exposure lets kids try out responses and strategies for dealing with these situations.

Start Early

Exposing your kids to different cultures isn't something that requires waiting. From infancy, incorporating storybooks from a diverse range of authors and listening to music from different cultures is an excellent foundation for a child who will respect diversity. But if your child is older, the window isn't closed: The best time to begin is now.

Listen to Your Kids

Most children have already seen or experienced prejudice. Playing is a great way to get them to start talking about things they've already witnessed in their own lives. These conversations can serve as building blocks to help them reach higher levels of understanding.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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