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It is so wonderful to live in a country that is so culturally diverse. Canada is an accepting and welcoming country that encourages its cultural diversity and it is something we should all be proud of. We have a little bit of each country here and teaching your child about different cultures and traditions can ensure that your child grows to be accepting of all people.
Teaching cultural diversity can be as easy as modelling accepting behaviour, talking about different countries and their traditions, exposing them to different ethnic foods, exploring different holiday traditions and if the budget allows, travel!
The best way to teach culture is to immerse yourself and your family into it. Travelling is perfect for that but not typically realistic for most families. There are of course other ways to learn more about other cultures like having maps or atlas’ around and open, talking about different countries, the places you, your partner, sister etc. have visited and books! There are so many children’s books that really give a lot of great information in a language that children understand.
Attending different festivals and events in your own city that celebrate different ethnicities will allow you and your family to experience many things about the culture. You can have open conversations about the clothes that they wear, the language they speak, the food they eat and the music they listen to among many other things. What a great way to expose your child to different cultures without having to leave your city!
*An international pen pal would also be another fantastic way to bring a little culture in.
Another great way to teach your family about other cultures is to do it with cooking! There are so many things you can do to encourage learning through cooking. Using foods that originate from different places can teach them about other countries and the types of food they rely on. You can also talk about the types of foods that grow and thrive in that specific climate and if there is a story behind the certain food you are making.
Having your child participate in choosing the recipe, looking at the pictures from that country, learning about why that dish is important to that culture all in the cooking process helps turn mealtime into a teachable moment for everyone.
Throw on some music from the chosen country, dress the table with some simple yet meaningful decorations and you are ready to go!
Holidays and traditions
Teaching your children about your own holiday traditions is so important for your own culture however, you can still teach them about how others celebrate holidays in their own countries. You can research, read and talk about other traditions with books, television, by making crafts and incorporating some of the decorations and celebrations from around the world into your own home.
Being mindful of other cultures and their traditions can also help your child be inclusive to others in daycare and school. When children understand and can relate to others, they are naturally more accepting, curious and this can help them grow into children, teens and adults who are open minded and accepting of others regardless of the colour of their skin or their cultural background.
Above all, the most powerful and easiest tool that you have to teach your children about this topic is yourself. Model and show them that you are accepting of everyone. From neighbours to co-workers to teachers and grocery store staff, be kind and accepting and your child will follow suit. Stand up for those who are being bullied, stand up to those who are being prejudice or offensive and show your child with your actions that no matter what, we are all the same. We all share the same feelings and emotions regardless of the language we speak, the clothes we wear or the way we look.