Children who are taught to celebrate other cultures will grow into respectful, valuable members of our diverse society. Our differences make us unique and have helped form the vibrant tapestry of our modern-day culture. Ignorance is bred from misinformation, lack of exposure and the fear of the unknown, therefore knowledge and empathy are vital in order to combat this. Understanding that everyone is equally deserving of respect regardless of their background, religion or heritage is a crucial lesson to learn from an early age. An independent school in Surrey has shared their top tips on how to teach your child to respect other cultures.
Select a wide range of books which feature characters from various cultural backgrounds. Representation is so important in teaching children respect and helps to break down stereotypes. Reading a book from the perspective of someone from a different background encourages empathy and teaches children that everyone experiences the same thoughts and feelings regardless of their differences. Reading can help to teach children about the customs of other people and introduces the idea that the cultural norm they have grown up with isn’t the ‘right’ way or the standard, it is just one of many ways to live.
Attend Cultural Celebrations
Many towns and cities host cultural events and festivals throughout the year to celebrate a particular culture. Taking your child to such events will not only introduce them to the food, music and traditional dress of the culture, but will also allow them to experience the beauty of diversity in the flesh rather than through a tv screen or in the pages of a book. Seeing the people behind the culture they are learning about will help children to recognise that diversity is an intrinsic, living, breathing part of our society and that the differences between people should be celebrated.
Find a Pen Friend
Connecting with an individual and forming a bond will help children to recognise that they actually have more in common with people from other cultures than they may have thought. A pen friend will help your child develop empathy and understanding for someone with a different background to them and they will have the opportunity to learn all about their new friends’ culture and customs. You could connect with friends or relatives who live abroad to see if they might know a child of a similar age, or sign up to an online pen pal exchange site. Some charities such as Save The Children have child sponsorship programs and help arrange written communication between you and the child you sponsor. This could be a great opportunity to teach your child about the importance of supporting people in need and gives them the chance to develop a friendship with a child in another part of the world.