by Wendy Iacobello
In today’s climate, diversity is not only apparent everywhere, but tolerance to diverse cultures is a must. There are so many amazing cultures all over the world. At Irie Camp Jamaica, all cultures and children are included in this special camp that strives to teach diversity and focuses on the appreciation as well as exposure of the Jamaican culture.
How can you teach diversity to children?
Metzler, Ph.D (2009) proposes that, “Children don't come with instructions, but they do come with open minds. Much of what they learn about respecting differences comes from their parents.” Teaching children about other cultures begins at home and parents today can find several opportunities to expose their children to the diverse backgrounds of people so they can appreciate and understand the wonderful traits of others who are different from themselves.
Irie Camp Jamaica is a perfect place to experience the Jamaican culture with children from all over the world. According to Metzler, “Teaching our children to accept differences may require that we use the power of the internet to learn about differences, that we seek out cultural activities that are out of our community and explore the strength and value in diversity.” There are many ways to expose children to other backgrounds that will influence them to better understand the concepts of diversity. Another strategy is to “Try to create opportunities for children to interact and make friends with people who are different from them. As you know, children learn best from concrete experiences” (Gonzalez-Mena & Pulido-Tobiassen, 1999).
When children can be proud of their own heritage, they are more likely to be open to learning about others. Teaching diversity to children also allows room for them to be open about their own culture. Gonzalez-Mena & Pulido-Tobiassen explain that, “The more that children have a solid grounding and understanding about who they are and where they came from, the more they learn to move with grace and confidence among communities different from their own, and the closer we get to building a world of respect, curiosity, sharing, and humanity.” Learning to respect and appreciate different cultures is an important concept and life skill. Teaching children openness and sensitivity to other heritages different from their own begins at home. There are numerous activities that can reinforce these concepts and Irie Camp Jamaica is one that will leave a positive and lasting impression on those who attend.
Metzler goes on to say that, “Rather than teach children the correct labels or names for people, let's teach them that differences are only a part of who we are. It is not the total of who we are.” Teaching about diversity is not only important for many of the reasons mentioned above, but it can also help children find similarities beyond the physical differences in the many cultures of the world.
Gonzalez-Mena, J, & Pulido-Tobiassen, D. (1999). Scholastic.com. Teaching Diversity: A Place to Begin. Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/teaching-diversity-place-begin-0/
Metzler Ph.D, C. (2009, February). PBS.org. Teaching Children About Diversity. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/parents/experts/archive/2009/02/teaching-children-about-divers.html
Wendi Iacobello has been an Army wife for three years and part of military life for five years. She has spent the last nine years as an adult educator, has a Master of Arts in Educational Media, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Her teaching career includes; Middle and High School Special Education, Correctional Education, and Community College Instruction in Early Childhood Education, Compensatory Ed, as well as Adult Basic Education. Currently, she is a blogger, freelance writer, instructional designer, aqua cycling instructor, and avid volunteer. In her free time, you can usually find her volunteering at USO’s story time, outdoors in the garden, exercising, or enjoying time with her husband and their adorable Beagle, Daizi. Wendi is extremely passionate about helping others find their inner strength by sharing her experiences, insight, resources, and inspirational stories on her blog Strength4Spouses.
Hi, I'm Bobbi and while I'll generally be posting here, I'll occasionally invite others to share as well.