Woohoo! I have been waiting for this week's post.
I love, Love, LOVE to travel. It's something that I don't get to do nearly as often as I'd like (time constraints, work constraints, the necessity of paying bills), but when I can, I do. The nice thing is that we are not quite as constrained by children's schedule's as we used to be (I talked about my youngest's awesome/disastrous recent nap - or lack thereof - in the B is for Books post), so it's a lot more fun to travel with my kids. And there are few things I love more than that wide-eyed expression when they discover something new and different. I still remember the first time we took my now 6-year-old to the beach. He was equal parts enamored and perplexed by this strange new substance: sand. It was so cute and fun to witness his confusion turned absolute delight. There are few things he loves more than digging and sand pours soooo much better than dirt.
I know that for multiple reasons traveling is difficult for families. But don't put too much pressure on yourself. Yes, a far flung trip around the world sounds amazing (or nightmarish - take your pick), but do a little research and you can recreate many aspects of that vacation closer to home. There is probably more to explore in your backyard than you think. Almost all major cities have ethnic enclaves that you can spend an entire day exploring. That's a travel experience in and of itself. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for festivals happening in your town. Go to a new restaurant. Options are everywhere.
Are you able to take a trip with the kids? Go somewhere you hadn't considered before. What's on your travel bucket list (mine is about a mile long)? Are all of your destinations concentrated in one area, country, or continent? Branch out! Enjoy stretching yourself and bring your kids along for the ride.
Where will you go next? What's on your travel bucket list? What will you consider adding? Leave a comment below.
Check back next week for letter U. We are getting close to the end of the alphabet! Sign up for the newsletter so you don't have to remember to check every week! You'll get a free diverse book list as well as tips and strategies delivered weekly to your inbox. Sign up today!
Developing your cultural competence is a whole-body experience. So often we talk about culture in terms of what we can see: Skin color. Gender. Style of dress. But culture is so much more than what you can see. Of course sight is important, but so are all of the other senses. Let's talk about how you can use all of your senses to develop cultural competence:
Sight: Many of the things we've talked about thus far in the series center around things you can see. Art, books, observations. You can learn so much from just getting off of your phone for just a minute and look around, you'll be amazed at just how diverse your surroundings are.
Smell: I love the idea of going on a neighborhood walk - new neighborhoods that you aren't usually in. Along with noticing the sights - notice the smells. What do you smell when you go to a new place? Which smells appeal to you? Which are aversive? Why do you think this is?
Sound: There are also sounds in each neighborhood - notice those as you walk as well. But there are also other sounds that pop up around diversity. The way different languages sound - not just the words that are used, but the music of the language. Different forms of poetry, storytelling, and books - these are all aspects of culture associated with different sounds.
Taste: Clearly this one is my favorite. I love to try new recipes that I've never had before. The great thing about this is you can never run out of ideas - there are so many cultures and each one prepares food differently. Check out the post on food for more tips on how to start.
Touch: You're probably thinking about things you can touch and yes, that is a sense that can be incorporated into diversity learning. But I like to think of feeling as more metaphoric (I am a psychologist after all). So how do all of these other sense experiences make you feel? Exhilarated? Uncomfortable? Scared? Excited? Be mindful of your own internal feelings and how they may manifest and be therefore, communicated to your kids.
Which sense will you try first? Which one appeals to you the most? Leave a comment below. Sign up for the newsletter so you'll get letter T delivered right to your email. You'll enjoy each blog post as well as tips, strategies, and general happenings at CCK. Enjoy & share with others!
When I was younger, I did ballet for several years. Let's be clear - I wasn't great. I enjoyed wearing tutus and twirling around, but I'm not the most flexible so my ballet career was pretty fleeting. But I loved ballet class, especially when we were preparing for a big show. I LOVED rehearsals - especially dress rehearsals. Instead of wearing a tutu, I got to wear a big frilly dress? Sold!
Part of the reason that I enjoyed rehearsals so much was because it made me feel more confident. Each time I practiced the routine, I got a little better at it. Sometimes it was something that my teacher noticed and corrected for me. Sometimes, I could feel something wasn't quite right and self-corrected. There were times when the changes felt unnatural and uncomfortable, but in the end it always paid off.
See where I'm going with this metaphor? Cultural Competence is the same thing. All of the tips and strategies that I've talked about in this blog series are great, but they are not really going to help if you only do them once. It takes consistency to develop a skill. It doesn't have to be constant; you don't have to talk about diversity in every interaction that you have with your child. But don't expect to read a book with diverse characters once and poof! Your kid is set for life. Nope, just like potty training, developing healthy eating habits, and getting out the door with both shoes on (oh the struggle!), consistency is key. Make sure that you are doing something, anything, on a regular basis. It can feel uncomfortable at first (probably more for you than your child) as you figure out what the heck you're doing, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Also, make sure that you are taking things a step further than just surface-level. At CCK, the focus is to make it fun to talk about diversity, but that's just the beginning. Not sure how to go deeper? Check out Just For Fun Friday. In almost all of the 1-page printouts is a section called 'Continuing the Conversation'. It contains tips on how to take things a step further so these very complicated concepts will really sink in and start to make sense to your child.
Eventually, it became abundantly clear that I wasn't going to be a prima ballerina. So I switched my focus: from ballet to running. And truth be told, I got to be pretty good. Even though it's called something different (practice instead of rehearsal), it's still the same idea. In order to improve, I did a lot of it - still do. I hope you'll practice - or rehearse - right along with me.
Come back next week as we present letter S! Any guesses as to what it might be? Leave a comment below! And don't forget to sign up for the newsletter so that you can get regular updates from CCK!
Did anyone guess this week's theme based on last week's post? I asked a question as a hint. Get it? Get it?
Ok, that's enough for my corny sense of humor. On to the actual post. Anyone who has ever lived with a 2-year-old (or talked to one for more than 3 minutes) knows that they like to inundate you with questions. I remember when my niece was two (way before I had kids) and had me going on a 30 minute conversation about the run I had just taken because she wanted to know why. Why was I going for a run? Why did I go that way for my run? Why do you run? Why do you wear sneakers when you run? It was so stinkin' cute. I mean it was also a little overwhelming and frustrating because, hey, I had just gone for a run and really needed to change and take a shower. I also could not for the life of me understand why she had to ask me so many questions. Remember - this was pre-children. Now that I have two kids who are (barely) older than 2, I get it now. I really get it.
Even though the questioning becomes less incessant as they get older, that curiosity never really leaves kids. As they grow and develop, they need to make sense of the world around them and asking questions is one of the best ways to do that. Yes, it can get a little overwhelming, but try to see it from their perspective. Let's say you go to visit another country where you don't speak or read the language, don't understand the transportation, and most of the people are twice your size. If you had a guide to lead you around the country, wouldn't you ask about 1,000 questions every hour. What is on this menu? Is it safe to go down this street? Where is the bathroom? What's the #1 place I have to visit? No seriously, where is the bathroom?!?!
But you would also want the guide to ask you questions. To guide you so that you would eventually be able to make sense of everything on your own. You wouldn't want them to tell you every answer all of the time, but to help you figure it out for yourself. To become self-reliant. Because isn't that what we want for our kids (I mean really, yes! Moving out prior to age 30 is preferable)? Keep in mind that the guide doesn't know the answer to every question all of the time, but they can and should help you find the answer. Because if you asked the question, you need to know.
So how do you, oh wise guideperson, help your little one through questions? Here are a few suggestions:
What questions will you ask your little ones? What questions have you been asked about diversity lately? What will you ask your kids first? Leave a comment below.
Don't forget to check back next week as we continue on to letter R! We're winding down towards the end of the alphabet. I hope that you've been enjoying the series. What has been your favorite letter so far? Which ones have you tried? Haven't seen the other posts? Check them out here on the blog and then sign up for the newsletter so you don't miss another one! You'll get weekly tips & tricks to help you make sense of raising a child with this essential 21st century skill.
Dr. Sweeney is a licensed school psychologist and cultural competence expert. Here are her musings on life in a multicultural world.
Interested in writing a guest blog post? Contact me for more information!