Parents need to maintain a running dialogue with their children about the differences and similarities of others. Introduce activities that teach your child to look beyond appearance when assessing a person. Learning to acknowledge diversity creates respect and helps turn children into caring adults who look for the richness in others.
Water Color Diversity
Splatter water colors haphazardly on a large sheet of white construction paper. Use a spray bottle to spray water on the paint. As the paint runs together, watch how various colors mix and create new, interesting hues. Discuss the color changes with your child and listen carefully to his comments. Ask whether each color started out beautiful on its own and if the beauty lessened when the colors blended together.
Read 'The Sneetches'
Dr. Seuss' "The Sneetches" addresses differences in others and feelings of self-worth. Read the book aloud and discuss the concepts during the reading. The star-belly Sneetches felt superior because they had stars imprinted on their bellies. These characters looked down upon others without stars. The Sneetches without stars wanted to be treated equally and went to great measures to look like everyone else. During the story, no one was happy with himself and had to learn an important lesson that it's OK to accept and celebrate differences.
Chop Stix Pick-Up
Billions of people in the world use chop sticks to eat meals. Give your child a pair of chop sticks, a paper plate and several cotton balls. Model holding the chop sticks and maneuver his fingers to hold them properly. Practice picking up the cotton balls and see how long you can hold one without dropping it. Read the book by Ina R. Friedman, "How My Parents Learned to Eat." This is a story of a Japanese citizen and an American who both secretly try to learn the other's way of eating.
'Hello' In Many Languages
Children learn the richness of various languages and cultures through exposure. Kids are sponges who grow by soaking up information. Teach your child to say "Hello" in multiple languages. For example "shalom" is hello in Hebrew and "bonjour" is hello in French. This early introduction may spark an interest to learn more of the language and open the child up to a new world and new people besides what he's accustomed to.
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