At The Family Center / La Familia we pride ourselves on our core values of diversity, equity, inclusion, trust, compassion, and love. At the center, we work to foster an environment that communicates these values to the children and families we serve. Teaching young children to respect, appreciate, and embrace different cultures not only promotes inclusivity but also prepares them to thrive in a globalized society. Caregivers play a key role in initiating and guiding conversations that build cultural competence, starting from a young age. Here are some valuable tips and resources to develop cultural competence with young children.

Tips for families

1. Lead by Example: Children learn by observing the behavior of adults around them. Demonstrate an appreciation and respect for diversity through actions and words, whether it’s through interactions with people from different backgrounds, the media you consume, or the way you celebrate holidays.

2. Start Early: Introduce concepts of diversity and inclusion early. Use simple language and age-appropriate examples to build understanding and appreciation for differences in cultures, traditions, and appearances.

3. Encourage Curiosity: Foster a sense of curiosity about the world. Encourage asking questions about different cultures, languages, and traditions without judgment. Emphasize that it’s okay not to know everything and that learning about other cultures is an exciting journey.

4. Use Everyday Moments: Seize everyday opportunities to discuss cultural differences. Whether reading a book, watching a movie, or visiting a new place, point out and discuss the diversity you encounter. Use these moments to teach empathy, respect, and acceptance.

5. Be Open and Honest: Address questions about sensitive topics such as race, religion, and ethnicity with honesty and openness. Avoid dismissing or trivializing their inquiries, even if you find the topic uncomfortable. Use age-appropriate language and provide factual information.

6. Celebrate Diversity: Incorporate cultural celebrations and traditions from around the world into family activities. Encourage participation in multicultural events, trying different foods, and learning about various customs. This fosters a sense of belonging and appreciation for diversity.

7. Correct Misconceptions: Children may inadvertently pick up stereotypes or biases from their environment. When you notice misconceptions or discriminatory language, address them promptly and gently. Use these moments as teaching opportunities to promote understanding and challenge stereotypes.

8. Emphasize Shared Values: While it’s essential to celebrate differences, also highlight the commonalities that bind us together as human beings. Teach values such as kindness, empathy, and compassion that transcend cultural boundaries.

young girl reads a book

Additional Resources

1. Children’s Books: Use diverse children’s books that feature characters from various cultural backgrounds. Books like “The Colors of Us” by Karen Katz or “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña can spark meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion.

2. Educational TV Shows and Movies: Choose age-appropriate TV shows and movies that showcase diversity and promote cultural understanding. Shows like “Sesame Street” and “Dora the Explorer” incorporate multicultural themes and characters.

3. Online Resources: Explore online resources specifically designed to teach children about diversity and inclusion. Websites like Teaching Tolerance and PBS Kids offer a wealth of educational materials, activities, and lesson plans for parents and educators.

4. Cultural Events and Festivals: Attend cultural events and festivals in your community to expose your child to different traditions, music, dance, and food. Participating in these events provides hands-on learning experiences and promotes cultural appreciation.

5. Museums and Virtual Tours: Visit museums that showcase cultures, histories, and art forms from across the world. Take virtual tours of museums from around the world to explore different cultures, histories, and art forms. Websites like Google Arts & Culture offer virtual access to renowned museums and cultural landmarks.

6. Language Learning Apps: Introduce foreign languages using interactive language learning apps designed for kids. Apps like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone Junior make language learning fun and accessible.

7. Community Engagement: Engage with diverse communities within your local area. Attend cultural celebrations, visit ethnic restaurants, and participate in community service activities that promote cross-cultural understanding.

three boys sitting outside

By incorporating these tips and resources into a child’s learning journey, they can learn cultural competence and embrace diversity, empathy, and respect. These conversations are ongoing and evolve as your child grows and learns. Embrace learning alongside your child as you navigate our multicultural world. Together, we can cultivate a more inclusive and harmonious society for future generations.

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