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3 helpful ways to teach kids about diversity

The role of an educator is to impart knowledge to students as young as five years old. It’s challenging to dive right into delicate topics, of course — so many educators wonder how to teach kids about diversity.
 
For example, addressing racial injustice and making the information understandable is no easy task. Whether it’s teaching children about the history of slavery or discussing current events, it’s tough to tackle such a complex and emotional lesson.
 
If you’re struggling to find ideas for teaching kids about diversity, you’re not alone. Teachers at all levels must approach it with care, compassion, and consideration for all students.
 
Continue reading to learn some helpful ways you can talk to kids about race, address current issues, and be a resource for our leaders of tomorrow.
 

Encourage Open Discussion

 
When it comes to differences in our appearance, young children are still very impressionable. Many young children are curious about why we look different and what those differences mean. Rather than shy away from the topic, consider addressing it directly.
 
Encouraging students to embrace their identity — whether it’s their gender, ethnicity, race, or sexuality — is crucial to their overall well-being and academic success.
 
A staple in any classroom, regardless of education level, is group discussion. Students can share their thoughts and ideas about specific topics and learn from each other.
 
Creating a learning environment free of judgment is always a priority for teachers. No teacher wants to witness bullying or harassment. All students should feel able to express themselves freely without fear of being judged or made fun of.
 
At the start of the school year, be sure to set expectations for your students. Discuss what bullying looks like and how students can work together to put a stop to bullying.
 
Include information on why people bully — kids get bullied for their skin color, how they look, if they have a disability — you name it. The objective is to prevent this behavior early on and establish an inclusive classroom.
 
 

Incorporate Diversity in Your Curriculum

 
As an educator, you rely on your creativity to make lesson plans and teach your students in innovative ways. It’s no different when you incorporate diversity into your curriculum. You use the same skills to find new approaches to discussing issues of race, gender, sexuality, and more.
 
One way to teach diversity to your students is by taking field trips or virtual visits to museums that discuss the history of these issues.
 
For example, multiple museums across the country have exhibits outlining the history of the Civil Rights Era. Bringing students together to learn in this environment will inspire them to embrace each other’s differences and lead a more inclusive life.
 
Teaching lessons using diverse literature is also a great way to educate students. Reading children’s books with people of different races or assigning activities related to diversity are excellent methods.
 
One activity that would benefit your students is creating a personal diagram of all the things that make them unique. Have them include their race, gender, and any other identifying characteristics. Using visual tools to introduce the idea that we’re all different will resonate with your students.
 

Strengthen Teacher and Student Relationships

 
Teachers can make deep connections with their students. You’re able to speak one-on-one with them to learn more about their backgrounds and what makes them tick.
 
Getting to know your students on a personal level will aid you in your journey of teaching diversity. When you take the time to understand what life is like for students outside of school, you become aware of their hardships as well as what makes them happy. Adjusting your teaching approach based on that will help you teach more effectively.
 
As the school year presses on, students will feel ready to use you as a resource. Maybe they’re faced with situations that make them question their moral compass. You can be the one to guide them through these times and offer advice on how to overcome them.
 
If a student can speak to you about being bullied, it’s your job to step in and take action. You can use these situations to teach the importance of accepting differences among peers and how damaging bullying is.
 
Build trust with your students so they can come to you in times of need.
 

Make a Lasting Impression

 
When you first embark on the journey of teaching diversity, be ready to make mistakes — you will make them, but you must learn from each one and work to improve your teaching skills.
 
Understand that you’re a role model to your students. Many, if not all, look up to you. Set an example for those who will lead the next generation.

 

About the Author

Ginger Abbot special education

Ginger Abbot is an education and lifestyle writer with a passion for learning. Read more of her work on Classrooms.com, where she serves as Editor when she’s not freelancing.

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