When we are aware, learning moments about diversity can be everywhere. Some are intentional like talking about different types of apples, others just come out of the blue. What we want to do is gain knowledge of cultural diversity, so we are comfortable talking about it.
In this article, I will talk about learning moments for children on the subject of diversity.
What does a learning moment for diversity look like?
One learning moment for diversity that I was able to take advantage of occurred when I was assisting two preschoolers, one black and the other white, who were trying to wash their hands.
While the black boy was washing his hands, the white boy said, “Why did you paint your face?” I wasn’t sure if he was asking me or the other boy, so I asked him, “What do you mean?” He replied, “See, his face is painted black.”
How would you react to this kind of situation when two children of different races ask a question like this? Children often talk or ask about what they see with genuine curiosity.
The best way to address diversity
Instead of dismissing what could become a great learning opportunity, ask children open questions like “What do you mean?” By doing so, you will find out what they’re curious about, and how much they already know about diversity.
You can then adjust what knowledge you share with them. Some children need a simple answer, others may need more detail. Being open-minded and respectful is the best way to address a situation like this.
Do we even know why we have different skin colours?
This video explains in a scientific way why humans have different skin colours. Knowledge leads to a positive change in our world, so let’s spend a few minutes educating ourselves first! You can also pick some children’s books on diversity, and read them with your kids
How did I talk about it?
Since I am an Asian (with yellow skin) I was a perfect person to talk about different skin colours. I rolled up my long sleeve, so the children could see my skin colour as well. Then we talked about our hair: the different colours, whether it was straight, wavy, long or short etc. Next, we compared our eye colours: blue, dark and light brown.
I concluded by saying that people come in different shapes, sizes, and colours just like apples. That’s what makes each of us so special!
The three of us got to touch three different types and colours of hair and ended with a celebration of laughter. I wonder if they remember our conversation that day in the washroom as well as I do.
Cultural diversity exists even within my immediate and extended family. What I believe is that children need to be exposed to diversity when they are young. It’s because when they grow up in a diverse environment, they only see who the person is, not the colour of their skin.
As adults, we have a responsibility to promote diversity with children to ensure a better future for all of us. Every opportunity we encounter should result in a conversation with our children.
They are the future, and we need to plant the seed in them NOW!