The holiday season can be a great time for families to celebrate diversity!
Parents and caregivers, you can choose to use this time to teach your children about customs that are different from your own and you can help children to understand and embrace other cultures.
Children learn best by seeing, doing, and being a part of a new experience.
Engage your child by reading to him or her about how other cultures celebrate holidays during this time of year. The Library of Congress is a great resource for stories about Christmas and Hanukkah. You can choose to search online for resources about observances such as and the way that people in different countries mark the arrival of the New Year. You also can find information about celebrations that happen on or around the winter solstice. Once you’ve read together, encourage your child to create something – like a painting, a drawing, a mask or a sculpture – representing some festival or tradition that interests him or her.
You also can head into the kitchen! Try making a special dish that is served during the holidays in a culture other than your own. Plum pudding or candied yams are just two dishes that come to mind.
Parents and families can use this time to teach children about the importance of volunteering in the community as well. A visit to a senior facility is one way children can learn about other cultures; the importance of community; and the incredible wealth of wisdom, values, and history that the elder members of any neighborhood have to share with the next generation.
Another fun activity could be exploring how other people and countries celebrate and then creating a list of places to visit.
A trip to your local library is always a fantastic way to find new information and fun activities that will allow your child to discover how wonderful other cultures are. Learning about humanity’s diversity and richness gives us all so much more to celebrate – during the holidays and throughout the year!
Carrie Jasper is director of outreach to parents and families at the U.S. Department of Education.