How can we best prepare children to meet the challenges and reap the benefits of the increasingly diverse world they will inherit? We can raise children to celebrate and value diversity and to be proud of themselves and their family traditions. We can teach children to respect and value people regardless of the color of their skin, their physical abilities, or the language they speak.
How to Begin
- What does it mean to be a parent raising a child in this diverse world?
- What does it mean to be a young child growing up in this diverse world?
There are many equally valid ways to raise healthy children who thrive in the world. Professional knowledge and experience are important, but we must never forget how much we can learn from the families we work with. For example: Rose comes to pick up her daughter, Pia, at their child care program and asks the teacher why her 13-month-old's shoes are in the cubby instead of on her feet. She requests that Pia always wear her shoes except when she is taking a nap.
The teacher explains that she believes that the best thing for a child who is learning to walk is to go barefoot because her little feet need room to grow, and bare feet are better for balance and control. The nurse practitioner at the clinic where Rose takes Pia and her other children has mentioned this too. He recommends flexible soft leather booties instead of the stiff dressy shoes that Rose has selected. Though both the teacher and the nurse practitioner have good points, what might they learn if they put themselves in Rose's "shoes"?
- Is Rose an immigrant to the United States who worries that Americans will think her ignorant if her child is not wearing shoes?
- Does Rose choose dressy shoes for Pia because she does not want anyone to think she cannot provide the very best for her child?
- Is Rose receiving government financial assistance as she tries to raise her family and worrying that bare feet will stigmatize her daughter as a "welfare child?"
- Is Rose from a part of the world where children contract parasites through their feet if they do not wear shoes?
- In Rose's culture, do people believe children catch colds from bare feet?