Our world is a rich and diverse one, full of hundreds of different cultures, faiths and belief systems. Childhood is the perfect time to learn more about the wider world. Learning about different countries, cultures and beliefs makes children more accepting and can prove highly beneficial as they move forwards through life. As regular readers will know, I have two children, aged 8 years and 12 years and for us teaching them about diversity forms an important part of our parenting.
Of course, school will play a big part in the development and education of our children, and the experiences they encounter while at school will probably go on to influence the rest of their life. Most school curriculums include variations on subjects such as Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics, and Citizenship; often starting with a basic foundation in primary school before giving students the opportunity to learn more at secondary school. My eldest has certainly been enjoying his RS lessons. As parents though, it is ultimately our responsibility to to teach diversity, to help them explore different cultures and more.
There are many ways to teach children about different cultures. Here are just a few:
Learn by Example
Young children often like to follow in the footsteps of their parents, mimicking their actions and copying phrases and speech patterns. Most children look up to their parents and want to be like them, which is why one of the best tools available to you is yourself.
Understanding Different Faiths
While younger children might prefer to follow your lead or learn through games and fun activities, older children will most likely be mature enough to start learning by taking in the world around them. Different faiths, cultures and beliefs will start to become more evident, whether it is in school, on social media or simply while out and about.
Religion can be a complex and controversial topic, which is why some people prefer to shy away from it to avoid complications. However, our children need to learn about the world around them, and simple discussions about faith can help youngsters understand why people believe the things they do. It can also help with questions around everyday occurrences like choosing to dress a certain way or eating (or avoiding) a particular type of food. Put simply, if children know the reasons behind these things, they are more likely to be accepting and tolerant.
Travel to Learn About Different Cultures
What better way could there be to learn about different cultures than to see them for yourself? Travelling may be a challenge with young children, but once they get a bit older it can be a brilliant way to open their eyes to the wider world and show them new countries, cultures and sights. This is something we would love to do.
Make Learning Fun
Fun activities and exciting games are a perfect way to get children engaged and interested in learning – no matter what it is that you are trying to teach them. There are plenty of games, activity packs and resources available out there, so do a little research and see what you can find.
Whether it is learning about what a zakat calculator can be used for in Islam or trying out different recipes from around the world, there are plenty of creative ways in which you can incorporate learning into daily life.
Above all else, it is important to educate the next generation about the differences between people in our world and help them learn to embrace their uniqueness. Inclusivity and understanding are essential for creating a better, happier future for all, so why not do what you can today to shape a brighter tomorrow.