We live in an area right with a diversity of people. Children who accept
these differences at an early age will have an easier time as they come
into contact with different others during their school years.
One of the most familiar areas in which children can appreciate the abundance
of variety in their lives is food. Whether you dine in restaurants or at
home, lead your children to the understanding that their food choices have
been greatly enhanced, thanks to the sharing of cuisines from other cultures.
Chances are your children have favorite foods that span several continents.
Help them to notice this.
I hope your family has a regular schedule in which you return and check
out batches of library books. If you donít have that yet, try to work it
into your routine. A childís choice of books is a tremendous motivation
toward improvement of reading. Be sure to choose a few books yourself,
though, to fill in the gaps. Books about other cultures, either folk tales
or non-fiction, are a tremendously underused section in many libraries.
Perhaps your child overhears a news report about a foreign country while
you are watching the news. See if you can find a book about that country
on the next visit to the library.
Youíd be surprised how people show their own cultural biases in their speech.
I have frequently heard Americans talk about how the British drive on the
wrong side of the road. A person who is being sensitive and open to other
cultures would say that they drive on the opposite side of the road. They
arenít wrong for doing this - just different.
Teachers incorporate partner and group activities into class work. Children
need to be able to focus on the task at hand in such a way that the physical
or cultural differences of other people will not detract from the assignment.
Your preparation at home can be a big help.
This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher's Advice for Parents.