In this fast changing world with boundaries quickly dissolving with the internet that enable us to develop international friendships and jet airplanes that make it possible to travel to other countries in a matter of hours, racial diversity is becoming common place in most cities of average size and more evident in larger ones. Part of a parents responsibility in raising their children is to be able to adopt proper social skills to help them handle any situation that may be presented to them both as a young child, teenager, and then as a young adult.
What are some the proper ways to approach teaching a child to be open minded and tolerant?
1. Encourage your child to think for himself and form his own opinions while still being respectful of others. Ask for his/her opinion on situations. What do you think about this and then ask them why. If their opinion is stated in a cruel manner, correct it immediately, remind the child that it is OK to have his/her own opinion but others might think differently and that is OK also.
2. Start teaching respect at a very early age. It is one of the most valuable traits a child can possess and will carry through to adulthood. Read books to your child that illustrate diversity in race, religion, gender and economic status. Explain that every person is special and unique in their own way.
3. Set a good example. All children are born innocent. Make sure you practice what you preach. Children learn at a very early age to mimic their parents. They become a product of their environment.
This week I wrote a review for one of my other blogs about a really cute book for young children entitled People Are Like Lollipops, by Annie Fox. I suddenly remembered that the book should probably be on this blog but to also be included in a list of books for young children that all have the same common theme of teaching diversity in a simple and easy to understand method. Fortunately there are many more books available than I realized but I will start with a list of ten that I find particularly interesting and add to it from time to time as I find new ones.
Books That Teach Diversity
1.My book –Roland’s Stupendous Imagination And The Native Americans
Teaching African American history during the month of February is important to all cultures not just for African Americans. By helping the students be aware of African American history recognition and value is placed on the culture as a race. Dr. Martin Luther King is the most widely recognized hero to all people but there are many more. I have noticed that African American students are much more knowledgeable of a broad spectrum of African American leaders and heroes are than students of other races.
One idea to help emphasize and form better understanding of whatever specific topic is being focused on such the Civil War, civil rights heroes, African American inventors, etc, is to have the students create a mural either on long bulletin board paper or on a large stretched canvas. One year my fifth grade students had been studying the Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. In their art class with me, we discussed of how to determine a symbol for each event on the timeline of the Underground Railroad. Then a background was painted on a large canvas and then the students were divided into groups. Each group was assigned a symbol to paint on the mural. Some of the symbols that we chose were a lantern, a slave running during his escape, a plantation owner with a large home, etc. Another way to accomplish this is to research ahead of time and collect pictures from the internet on certain African American history topics or go to a local library and look up the newspapers during the time frame of the civil rights movement on microfish. Have the articles printed out with the dates and pictures and let the students assemble a collage using a painted background and either thinned down glue or acrylic medium.
This should be painted on the surface of the mural, then apply the article or picture and then another coat directly on top. After it dries several more coats of the thinned glue or acrylic medium will seal the collage. the project can become a permanent accessory for the school’s hallway or offices. This project is very interesting for the students and was met with wide acclaim with the administrators and parents alike.
February serves us as the second month of the year, African American History month, and a holiday that is not recognized as a federal holiday, but still one of my favorites, Valentines Day. I have wonderful childhood memories of our classroom project every year decorating a cigar or tissue box with red, white, and pink construction paper hearts and then preparing a valentine for each and every one of my classmates. Next was the anticipation of opening the box and viewing all the different cards from all of my friends.
When I was teaching art to elementary students I remembered this and since the students I taught already were doing this in their classroom, I decided to take it a step further. We created Valentines and sent them to a school in Africa. I corresponded with several of the teachers and much to my surprise the students there not only did not celebrate Valentines Day but also had never seen glitter and some of the materials we used. They were very excited to receive them and the teachers said they especially loved seeing their name written on the hearts and coming from such a long distance across the ocean.
With all of this in mine, I would like to list several websites that give information on international exchange for children individually or classrooms.