With violent, public displays of racism occurring in the US over recent weeks (and throughout history, all over the world) it’s crucial for parents to educate their children on different cultures, essentially teaching them to respect and celebrate people’s differences. The sooner you work on this lesson, the better, as teaching your child about systematic racism and white privilege from a young age may help contribute to a more accepting and less hateful world. However, you may want to start with some simpler lessons to help your child understand and appreciate other cultural traditions. Here are some tips from an independent school North of London.
Start by purchasing a world map or finding a decent one online. Show your child than in each of the different countries all over the world, there are people who speak different languages, have different skin colours and different religious beliefs. Explain to them that just because these people are different, doesn’t mean they’re any better or worse than you. Explain that all people are equal, despite their differences. Perhaps you could even explore the history of some of the countries, and how people were wrongfully treated in years gone by.
It is likely that your child will have some questions, which you should try and answer as best you can. If you don’t know the answer, use it as an opportunity to do some research with your child, so that you can learn together. The idea behind this activity is to show your child how big the world is outside of their tiny bubble, and within that world are lots of different types of people who are no less important.
The more your child understands about different cultures, their traditions and their history, the easier it will be for them to respect others. Perhaps you could explore some of the celebrations and religious holidays that occur every year, all around the world. For example, Chinese New Year, Eid, Diwali, Hanukkah, The Day of the Dead etc. Mark them in your calendar and celebrate them within your own home. Be sure to teach your child about the meaning behind each. You could also cook meals with ingredients from around the world or read books with your child that focus on race or religion.
Most importantly, always set a good example for your child so that they can learn what respectful behaviour looks like. If you make stereotypical or racist jokes, your child will think this is acceptable behaviour and do the same. Being a good role model is a key element of teaching an important life lesson.