A recipe for raising respectful & inclusive future global citizens
As Teachers, Educators and families, if we want to help create future adults that are inclusive, accepting and respectful of diversity in all its forms, we need to work with a unique recipe that introduces and embeds a buffet of inclusive practices and interactions. A recipe that helps nurture and develop a meaningful appreciation of diversity, from a very young age.
We’re excited to share our key ingredients for a successful recipe to inclusion!
“There is no better place to start than with the children.” - Meni Tsambouniaris, Diversity Kids
1. Start Early! Even as young as toddlers
Research indicates that the earlier conversations around diversity start with children, the better (Katz, 2003). Although there is no ‘one time fits all’ for every child, we recommend that these conversations start from preschool age. If children are old enough to notice difference (such as skin colour, race or diverse abilities) and ask questions about such things, then they are old enough to start having age-appropriate conversations around these.
Children’s curiosity about differences can provide useful opportunities to discuss concepts such as culture, race or (dis)ability and enable us to work towards removing bias, prejudice and racist behaviours in children from an early age.
2. Don’t avoid difficult conversations & topics
As uncomfortable as some conversations may be, it is more important to have them than not to have them at all. For example, if you catch your child staring at a person in a wheelchair or making inappropriate comments about skin colour in public, we recommend that you act immediately, because immediate action gives the child a better understanding of your response. It is also a good opportunity to have this important conversation before other people become involved and express their views when you are not present.
Once you start this important conversation, keep the conversation going! This way, you have the perfect opportunity to gently lay the foundation of the child’s worldview.
3. Encourage dialogue
This gives parents and teachers the opportunity to educate children, before they are influenced externally.
4. Expose children to diversity in all its forms from a young age
This includes culture, religion, race, (dis) ability and gender. Use every opportunity to introduce and have conversations around diversity. Openly discuss, answer questions, clarify, and immerse children in experiences, programs and resources that promote and embrace culture, diversity, anti-bias, kindness, belonging, and inclusion.
5. Educate children about the value of all, not just theirs
Help create an awareness of and a respect for ways of being that are different to their own.
Find ways to instil in children the notion that “it’s ok to be different” and “we all have something valuable to share.”
Encourage children to experience and appreciate the many different “mirrors and windows” out there.
By teaching young children about diversity, we are exposing them to different ways of being from an early age. This encourages them to see difference as positive and enriching, nurturing a respect and acceptance for people, practices, beliefs, attitudes, cultures, abilities and experiences that are different to their own.
6. Season with parental guidance and good role modelling around embracing and valuing diversity
Always model respectful, inclusive behaviour. Children learn through observing adult behaviours. Be conscious of your words and actions when you interact with diverse others. Educate through example. This is a powerful way we can help children learn empathy and diversity inclusive behaviours.
7. Stir gently until all ingredients combine well
8. Use every opportunity to serve with good practice
Repeat steps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 over and over and embrace every diversity given opportunity to do so!
9. Enjoy! Inclusive children create future inclusive societies
If we want to create future adults that accept, respect and embrace the diversity in our world, “there is no better place to start than with the children.”
We all hold the key in paving the way to creating societies that see diversity as a positive and a strength. It’s all in the recipe!
Words: Meni Tsambouniaris
Meni is one of the faces behind Diversity Kids. Diversity Kids is committed to preserving and maintaining culturally inclusive practice in early childhood.
Originally published in Connected Caregiving Autumn 2023