Raising Kids to be Inclusive: Teaching the Values of DEIB from an Early Age
Tips to implement at home, school, and in the real world.
In a world full of diversity, teaching our children the values of inclusivity from an early age is crucial. As parents and caregivers, we play a pivotal role in shaping the perspectives and attitudes of the next generation. This blog post explores the importance of raising kids to be inclusive and offers practical insights into instilling the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging from the very beginning.
The Power of Early Education
Children are like sponges, absorbing information from their surroundings. Early education plays a fundamental role in shaping their worldview. Introducing diverse books, toys, and media that showcase characters from various backgrounds helps create a foundation of understanding and acceptance. One of my favorites to share with my own kids was Todd Parr’s “The Family Book.” This sparked a lot of good conversation before bedtime. By incorporating inclusivity into their everyday experiences, we set the stage for a more open-minded and empathetic future.
Advocate for a curriculum that integrates diverse perspectives, showcasing contributions from various cultures, backgrounds, and different types of people. Diverse extracurricular activities, such as playdates, playgrounds in various neighborhoods, cultural exchange programs, and social justice clubs, can further enrich their educational experience.
Lead by Example
Children learn not only from what we say but also from what we do. Being mindful of our attitudes and behaviors towards people from different backgrounds is crucial. By modeling inclusive behavior, such as embracing diversity in our friendships and respecting various traditions, we provide our children with real-life examples of the values we aim to instill. When my children were growing up, I made sure to take them to as many museums and live performances as possible. My wife and I also made sure to visit various parks in the Evanston and Chicagoland area to make sure that our children were interacting with kids their age who come from different backgrounds.
Modeling inclusive behavior extends beyond our homes. Encourage teachers and school staff to use inclusive language that reflects the diversity of the student body. Support anti-bullying initiatives in schools, creating safe spaces where all students feel valued and respected.
Rather than shying away from differences, celebrate them! Teach your children to appreciate the uniqueness that each individual brings to the table. Whether it’s exploring diverse cuisines, learning about various cultural traditions, or participating in multicultural events, embracing differences becomes a joyful and enriching experience for the entire family.
In addition to embracing diversity at home, attend school events that celebrate differences. Encourage participation in cultural festivals, workshops, and forums that promote dialogue and understanding among students. Highlight the importance of making diverse friendships, and fostering an inclusive social environment within the school community.
Encourage Curiosity and Questions
Children are naturally curious, and fostering an environment where they feel comfortable asking questions about differences is essential. Encourage an open dialogue about race, ethnicity, religion, and other aspects of identity. By addressing their questions with honesty and openness, we help them navigate the complexities of a diverse world while reinforcing the importance of understanding and acceptance.
If there’s something you don’t know, be honest and do that research together. My sons once asked me about the distinctions between immigrants, migrants, and refugees. After discussing our initial thoughts, we researched online to clarify the definitions. This not only aligned our understanding but also equipped me with the necessary language to explain these concepts to my sons. Subsequently, we engaged with individuals in our Evanston community who identified as immigrants, migrants, or refugees.
Inclusive Practices in the Real World
Take the lessons learned in school and apply them to the real world. Choose to support businesses that prioritize inclusivity, whether through diverse leadership, inclusive advertising, or multicultural programming. Get involved in volunteer work that promotes inclusivity, contributing to initiatives supporting underrepresented groups and fostering positive change.
By incorporating these practices into our daily lives, we can create a foundation of understanding, empathy, and acceptance that will stay with our children throughout their lives. In doing so, we contribute to building a future generation that embraces diversity, values inclusivity, and fosters a world where everyone feels like they belong.