How important is diversity to you? I am constantly reassessing our home environment to ensure it meets our children's needs. I am often concerned about bias - unconscious, perceived or outright that exists within our community and want to ensure they don't find a way into our home.
We know that children have an absorbent mind, they absorb every last detail of their surroundings. The child's environment has a fundamental role in forming the child's awareness and understanding of the world around them. A play environment rich in diversity promotes greater acceptance of different beliefs, languages, family types, appearances, cultures, and lifestyles.
I want my children to be kind, respectful and accepting of all people regardless of differences. For them to know they can become anything, do anything regardless of their background, beliefs or gender. I want representation, inclusiveness, and equality in my children's toys, books, and materials.
I am looking at the diversity in my children's:
- Toys - dolls, action figures, people figures - we don't have a lot of these but you can see reader suggestions here.
- Books, Audio Books, Podcasts.
- Art work.
- Dress ups.
- Board Games.
- Music - we love Putumayo Kids.
- Art supplies - for example diverse skin colour pencils, crayons and markers.
- Digital entertainment, games, videos.
I'm looking for diversity including but not limited to:
- Indigenous representation.
- Gender roles/Gender bias.
- Same sex parents and interracial families.
- Transgender, especially transgender children.
- Adoption and Foster Care.
- Disability - including disfigurement, impaired hearing, limb loss, use of aids.
- Children with allergies and food intolerances.
- Children with complex health concerns such as cancer, terminal illnesses and those undergoing treatment.
- Culture and Religion.
- Homeless or without stable accommodation.
- Refugees and new immigrants.
Sometimes we do well and other times I feel disappointed with our options. We find the most diversity exists within our books and podcasts, and possibly the least amount of diversity in our children's videos and movies.
We often find books that discuss difficult and complex topics in an age appropriate way. Culturally and ethnically diverse books can be introduced from birth.
I strongly believe that as parents, we are wholly responsible for the child's environment, while we follow the child we ensure the environment is safe including no inappropriate, emotionally or physically damaging toys. To go one step further this environment needs to be not only supportive of diversity but celebrates and promotes diversity.
We need to teach our children that people look and behave differently. That different doesn't equate to bad or wrong, less able, less smart, less capable or less likely to be a friend. Teach all kinds of different. Be open to discussing differences. Toys and materials are just the start. Being a good role model is perhaps the best thing we can do for our children.
This is a learning process for our family, please feel free to share how you promote diversity in your home or school or how you would encourage others to do the same.