Guest post by author and coach, Kevin Christofora
There are some values that are always important to instill in your children, but occasionally, certain ones become even more pertinent than others. One that seems particularly essential these days is tolerance. All over the world, there’s an upswing in people fearing and blaming people who are different from them for various issues, and it’s a disturbing trend. Teaching our children tolerance is the best way to combat this, and establish a reality where the difference isn’t stigmatized, but rather celebrated. Here are some tips for teaching tolerance.
tips for teaching
- Highlight similarities
It can be like second nature to notice the differences between ourselves and others. As a result, it is essential to put focus the lens on what makes those people just like us. Our shared humanity is the most obvious answer, but for kids, all it can take is a shared favorite animal or TV show to get them engaged with another child— and from there, things like friendship and understanding can grow.
- Make it fun
Learning about other cultures shouldn’t be a chore. While museums certainly have their place, if their experience of other cultures is always through such institutions, they’ll probably get a little bored. So, look for opportunities to make this education fun and exciting. Parades and outdoor fairs for specific ethnic or religious holidays can be a great way to do this, as can children’s film festivals that have international offerings. Engaging with these activities with a focus on learning, respect, and celebration can be a wonderful way to teach children the beauty of other cultures.
- Work it into the everyday
Teaching tolerance can also happen in everyday activities, as well. Maybe the family dinner once a week comes from a culture you’ve been learning about, or certain bedtime stories have themes like acceptance. As an author, I try to help parents with this. My The Hometown All Stars series is about a team of little league players from all different backgrounds, so that readers learn about diversity along with life lessons and healthy habits. The most recent one, Amira Can Catch, focuses on a new teammate who happens to be a Syrian refugee.
- Acknowledge differences, and celebrate them
Highlighting the things we share with others is important to find common ground; understanding what we don’t share is an amazing way to gain respect for those differences. We don’t have to believe the same things or come from the same place as others to love them and honor their experiences. The more we teach children to see another’s differences as beautiful, the more well-rounded and compassionate they’ll be.
Teaching tolerance to children doesn’t have to be droll. It can be a fun, lively, and engaging experience. You’ll enable them to learn so much about the world and other cultures, while also creating wonderful memories. Finally, you’ll be setting your children up to be adults who respect others, work to find common ground with those who are different and find joy in the unknown.
Kevin Christofora is the author of a new book, Amira Can Catch. This diverse kidlit book shares the story of Amira, a Syrian refugee who is new in school, as a way to teach children about diversity, tolerance, and inclusion to readers of all ages. Christofora, a father, and little league coach hopes his books will inspire children to play outside more often. A devotee of America’s pastime, he aims to teach young people about baseball and the habits of a healthy lifestyle in the form of a fun and an educational bedtime story. He has appeared on ABC News, ESPN Radio, 660 News Radio, Santa Fe -KVSF 101.5, and WDST-FM Woodstock, and has had articles featured in _About Families Online_, _KidzEdge_, _Mom Blog Society_, and several other publications. For more information, please visit http://thehometownallstars.com/