How to Teach Your Children About Diversity and Inclusion

by Carter Toni

As a foster carer welcoming children from various backgrounds into your home, teaching your own children values of diversity, equality and inclusion is vital. This allows the foster child to feel welcomed and accepted, while enriching your children’s understanding of different cultures, faiths and ways of life.

Explain What Makes Us All Unique

Have open conversations about the things that make each person special. Help your children understand that factors like ethnicity, disability, sexuality, gender identity and faith are all parts of what makes someone who they are. Explain that these differences should be celebrated. Use books, TV shows and your own anecdotes to showcase diversity in a positive light. It’s important not to ignore differences, but rather explain them and value the diversity they bring. Always answer children’s questions patiently, even if they seem inappropriate at times.

Promote Equality and Respect

Make it clear that every person deserves the same rights and opportunities in life, regardless of their background. Set expectations of mutual respect and make it clear that discrimination or making assumptions about others will not be tolerated. Encourage your children to call out inequality when they see it. Role modelling these attitudes yourself is crucial. Consider volunteering as a family to causes that support marginalised groups. Display affirming messages around your home.

Celebrate Different Cultures and Faiths

Organise activities centred around learning about different cultures, such as trying new foods, reading folk stories and marking cultural events throughout the year. Take your children to places of worship other than your own so they can gain first-hand appreciation of different faiths. When discussing sensitive topics like religion, keep conversations balanced and avoid imposing your own views. It can be impactful to have children make a scrapbook documenting the diverse cultural experiences they have. Invite friends from a range of backgrounds over to share a meal.

Answer Questions Openly

Young children especially will likely have many questions about factors they see as ‘different’. Welcome these curiosities as a chance for positive discussion. Answer sincerely at a level they understand, making it clear that we should not treat people differently based on looks, background or beliefs. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, then make it a learning opportunity by researching together. Validate the child for asking and be understanding if a question could be deemed offensive by some.

Accommodate Cultural Needs

A carer who chooses to foster through a cultural or faith-based agency like Active Care Solutions can help ensure that a child’s specific way of life is accommodated. This might mean providing certain foods, allowing time for religious observance or celebrating special events. Including your own children in these adjustments lets them experience traditions perhaps unfamiliar to them. It can be deeply meaningful for a child to retain touchpoints to their cultural identity. Discuss with social workers what specific needs should be focused on.

Fostering provides a valuable chance to broaden your whole family’s understanding of diversity and bring positive social change. Keep conversations open and lead by example in embracing each child who joins you as an individual. Foster care lets you “walk the walk” when it comes to inclusion.

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