Who doesn't love a good holiday??
It's a time to spend with family, engage in traditions, and oftentimes stuff yourself with your favorite foods. Here in the US, our time off from work and school is centered around Christian holidays. We always have Christmas off and we frequently don't go to school right before or after Easter. There are also holidays that are distinctly American such as Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and holidays that don't mean a day off from school, but are expected to be celebrated (Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day). However, not all people celebrate holidays in the same way. One of the tenants that the United States was founded on is freedom of religion. Although not as much attention is paid to some religions, there are many here in the US. And each religion has its own holidays and own celebrations.
Use this to do an activity with your child. There are lots of ways to use holidays to learn about other religions. Here are some suggestions. Choose your favorite or try all of them! Or better yet, let your child pick what would be fun and interesting to them:
Which activities will you try with your kids? Which sound like the most fun? Were there any religions that you didn't know about at all? Did you find a new tradition that you love? Leave a comment below.
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How many of you like to create things with you kids? Art projects? Lego masterpieces? Gifts for grandparents? This week's post is all about generating something unique and fun with your kids. It's all about creativity. Together you will generate a project centered around your own culture. Here at CCK, we believe that you need to understand yourself and your own culture in order to truly get others' cultures. This is a concrete and fun way to start to do this with your child.
In this case, culture is defined very broadly. You - or better yet your child - can decide how culture should be defined. Stumped? Here are a few ideas for how to get started:
There are a few different ways to complete this project. Below are a few suggestions, but don't let those limit you! Flex those creativity muscles and if you think of a cool and different way to engage in this topic, please leave a comment so we can all learn from each other. I'm sure many of you have some very cool ideas...
When you are done, display it somewhere in your home - the living room, your child's room, your room. This will help remind your child (and you!) of who they are and all of the things that make them and their family unique. It can also reinforce to your child that everyone is unique and while people share traits that bring them together (race, language, ethnicity, geographic location) you have to be careful to make assumptions based on one or two traits.
Bonus: Encourage your child to ask their friends to generate their thoughts about their own personal culture. Learn more about each other!
Don't forget to check back next week for letter H! You can also sign up for the newsletter and get it delivered right to you! Enjoy posts like these as well as Just For Fun Fridays and tips and strategies. Enjoy!
I LOVE food!
No seriously. I understand that it's necessary for sustaining life and all that jazz, but for me it's not about that. Some people eat to live, some people live to eat. I'm the latter.
I feel that food is about so much more than what you eat. It's about coming together and sharing experiences with people. Think about the top 3 traditions with your friends and family. How many of those involve food and sharing it with others? How many are centered around a big meal? Is there a certain dish that just has to be present or else the day isn't quite the same? Even if one of your favorite traditions is Friday night movie and pizza that still involves food.
There are so many ways to incorporate food into learning about other people. The thing I love about it is that your kids can be a big part of the process. All kids have opinions about food (sometimes very strong opinions) and involving them may increase their willingness to try new foods. Even if you don't cook, there are still a great number of ways to use food to learn about other people. Here are a few options:
To get started, here are some of my favorite sites related to food. You can find tips for how to involve kids in the kitchen, look up new recipes, and learn fascinating food trivia:
Getting Kids Involved in the Kitchen
Sweet Peas & ABCs
Recipes Around the World
Fun Food Facts
Common Food Myths
What will you try first? What is most interesting to you? Do you like eating new foods with your kids? Leave a comment below.
And don't forget to check back next week for the next letter - G. You can also sign up for our newsletter and get all the great information delivered right to your inbox. Enjoy & share!
I admit it. This one is pretty broad. And that is intentional on my part. There are so many different types of events that can increase a child's cultural competence and diversity awareness. Many different geographic areas host cultural events that you can attend and oftentimes, there are parts of the event geared towards children. In big cities, there tends to be a ton of options. As I've mentioned previously, I live in Washington DC where there are multiple cultural events every week. For example, here's a sampling of cultural events from the last month: Fiesta Asia Silver Spring, DC Dragon Boat Festival, and Passport DC. Some of these events are HUGE and some are much smaller, more specific, and obscure, but no less interesting.
So I am really lucky living in an area with so many events that are open to the public (and often FREE!). It is the nation's capital after all and you can't throw a ball without hitting an embassy (well, not really, but you get the idea). The cultural events in my town are abundant with so much diversity in one space. The same is true of many big cities throughout the U.S. and world. But I also want to point out that even though some diversity is not as visible, it does not mean that it is any less important. So while large cities tend to have a ton of diversity that you can see, many smaller cities and towns also possess incredible diversity and hold fantastic events to showcase them.
Below are some summer festivals that are happening throughout the United States and the world. If you are close to one of these cities or towns consider checking one of them out. If all of these are too far or don't coordinate well with your summer schedule, research the offerings in your area. I'm sure that there is something going on close to home - you may just have to do a little digging:
Check back next week for the letter F. This one is universal - you are bound to find something that you can incorporate over the summer and into the school year. Better yet, sign up for the newsletter so you don't have to remember to check! You'll get tips and strategies every week in addition to the blog. I hope you enjoy - share with your friends!
This one may seem obvious, but boy, can it be tricky. The fun stuff we do with our kids to introduce them to diversity (such as reading books & going to art museums) is just the beginning. In order for our kids to become truly culturally competent, they have to be able to analyze and synthesize all of the (often conflicting) information that they receive. Because along with the direct information that you, the parent/guardian/loved one/teacher, are sharing, your kids are also getting numerous subtle messages from society every day. Racial microaggressions, sexist advertising, school days off for only certain holidays, the list goes on and on. Messages are everywhere. So how do you help your child make sense of it all?
Point It Out: When you see these things happening, don't ignore them! Your child will notice your silence and may interpret it in a way that you did not intend. Your silence sends just as powerful a message as your words. Tell your child when you see discrimination, in any form, happening. Point it out so your child doesn't interpret certain behaviors and messages as "just the way things are".
Make the Connection: You've set a great foundation for your child by doing fun activities related to diversity. Now it's time to use those experiences. When you are pointing out things you see in society, connect what is happening to other experiences. Did your discussion in class about Black History Month leave some things out? What do you think CJ's Nana would think about this advertisement? Do your markers represent all of the people you see? Help your child see how to make sense of all of these different aspects of diversity awareness.
Be Honest! This is a big one - the most important by far. Don't sugarcoat things for your child. Don't represent the world in the way that you wish it was. I'm not saying that you should scare your child; it's important to be age-appropriate. But don't make it seem as if the world is different than it actually is. For example, we have a board book about Martin Luther King Jr. that I've been reading to my kids since they were little. The end of the book presents the world in a way that I always felt uncomfortable with - that all kids are completely equal. This felt too disingenuous and simplistic to me. So whenever I read the book, I always added a disclaimer - that while MLK certainly helped to make things better between the races, not everyone and everything is treated as completely equal (in age-appropriate language of course). As my kids have gotten older, this has led to some questions and great discussions about what that means. I'm convinced that it's helping to teach my children not just about society, but about empathy too.
So don't be scared to have those conversations! Discussions don't have to feel impossible. Start now and they will get easier! Have you started having discussions with your kids about diversity? How did you get started? If not, what will you do to get your first one rolling? Leave a comment below. I'll see you back here in a week for the next letter - E!
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How lucky are kids today?
I know I sound like an old fuddy-duddy when I say that, but seriously! How lucky are kids today?!
The internet has revolutionized childhood like no other:
Want to hang out with friends, but can't get to them? FaceTime, group chat, text.
Have a questions but don't have an encyclopedia or can't get to the library? Look it up within 10 seconds.
Have to know the lyrics to that song you were just listening, because yes it was life-changing Mom! There's an app for that.
It is so much easier to access information that it ever has been. Advances in technology have been truly astounding over the past 20 years. We use the internet for work, play, and everything in between. So why not also use it to learn about others?
You can use computers to learn so much about others. Here are some of my favorite ways to use the computer (and by extension - phone, tablet, etc) to learn about diversity with your kids, increase their cultural competence, (and your own!) and still have fun!
What activity will you try with your kids first? Do you use the computer to learn new things with your kids? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Don't forget to check back next week for letter D. I think this is one that everyone will want to try.
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So this one may be my favorite...
I LOVE books. I'm a total book junkie. Everyone has their own personal obsessions. Mine is books. I'll say it loud and proud - I have a book addiction. It could be worse...
So, it would stand to reason that I would try to turn my kids book junkies too. I am totally convinced that it's working. The other day when my 3-year-old daughter should have been napping, she was 'reading'. I walked in and there were books ALL OVER THE ROOM. On her bed, on the floor, with her dolls. It was a total disaster in there so you think I might be mad, right? Not me. I was beaming with pride. That's my girl.
So why not combine some of the things I love the most: books and diversity. Books are a fantastic way to learn about almost anything. In fact, I created a fantastic list of books with diverse characters and storylines. Below is a list of diverse books to read with your kids. Some are from my booklist (see below) and some are bonus books.
Diverse Books For Babies & Toddlers:
Diverse Books For School-Aged Kids:
Diverse Books For Teens & Young Adults:
This list is only the start. You can access other great lists of books on my friend Sarah's blog Book Birdie here and my friend Sally's food and educational blog here. Both of these sites are essential for parents - I consult both of the regularly. You can also get our full list of diverse books with over 60 titles for babies to young adults.
I hope that no matter what, books are a great way to introduce your kids to something new. Go on a journey by reading with your little ones, get one of the books for your budding school-aged reader to read on his or her own, or suggest to your teen that you should read one of the books together. Any way you do it, you will be amazed at how much you and your kids will learn about others through books.
I love art. Correction. I love looking at works of art. I do not like creating works of art. Trust me, no one would consider those works of anything. But I really enjoy being an art consumer and living in Capitol Hill, DC right down the street from some fantastic and super accessible (read: free!) art museums, I like to go as often as I can. And now that my kids are old enough to walk around the museum with me, I love to take them too.
But let's face it, it's hard for kids to appreciate art. Not impossible, but not exactly easy. But so many art museums have fabulous kids' programming nowadays. Can I get my 5-year-old to appreciate Monet's brushstrokes? Um, no. But can I bring him to the National Gallery of Art to watch a film about monkeys narrated by Tina Fey (the latest that we went to go see)? Yes, please! And on the way out, we can check out some of the artwork.
So what about the diversity? How do you incorporate that into your visit? Here are a few suggestions. Keep in mind, your kid may not be ready for actual discussions about the art - some of these concepts are really nuanced and too advanced for little ones. But if you start taking your little one to the museum now, they will be more used to it and primed to have conversations when they are developmentally ready. Also, museums are great indoor spaces for kids to run around in when the weather is crappy - just a tip.
Live too far to make it to the museum? Visit online! There are tons of museums throughout the United States and the world that showcase incredible art through the internet. Here are some great art museums throughout the United States and the world. This is just a sampling - there's sure to be one closer to your town as well.
I know visiting these isn't as easy as a quick drive down the street for most people, but try to visit in person if you can! While the internet is great, there is no substitute for the real thing. Going to museums is not yours or your child's thing? Check back next week for letter B! It's sure to appeal to pretty much everyone. Better yet, sign up for the newsletter and you won't have to remember to check. Get the blog as well as Just For Fun Fridays and other great information delivered weekly to your inbox. Enjoy & share!
I'm starting a new blog series over here on CCK called "Cultural Competence A-Z". I've gotten a lot of feedback from parents that talking about cultural competence can be overwhelming. I agree - it can be, but it doesn't have to be. That's why it's ok to start small and to start FUN! So that's why I created this series. So in the weeks and months leading up to the end of the school year (eek!), throughout the summer and into the Fall, we'll talk about fun and engaging ways that you can develop your child's cultural competence. All of the suggestions are easy, fun, and totally accessible.
Make a promise to yourself to try at least one letter. Better yet, make it a game and have your child pick! How can you make it a game? Here are some options:
The list goes on and on! There are so many ways to make this fun for you and your kids. Chances are, some of these are things you are doing already. Now, they just have a slightly different spin on them. For even more ways to have fun with your kids, check out the video blog series Just For Fun Fridays where I provide specific items to learn about diversity while still having fun with your kids. You'll enjoy it so much, you'll forget that you're teaching your child an essential life skill. You won't even believe how easy it is to get started.
What letter is your child's favorite? Which one will you try first? Leave a comment below and let us know! I can't wait to hear all about the fun!
Check back next week for letter A! Better yet, sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss a post! You'll get a FREE list of diverse books for kids of all ages-babies to young adults. You may just be able to use it - spoiler alert! - for one of the upcoming letters. Enjoy!
Unless you've been living under a rock, you have heard about Beyoncé's stunning new visual album Lemonade. And if you have kids who are between the ages of 10 and, oh, 80 who are into pop music, it's safe to assume that they have too. There's been a lot of talk about the album as it relates to Beyoncé and Jay-Z's marriage with allegations of cheating as one of the central themes. But there are a lot of diversity themes for kids to talk about embedded throughout. Use it as a way to talk about any number of the themes below or within the context of your child's interests. Music is very powerful so use it to bond and learn with your child. I'm pretty sure they'll be listening to it anyway...
Race: Queen Bey does not shy away from highlighting African-American culture in this album. She pays homage to the Black Lives Matter movement and specifically to the Black men who have been killed recently (e.g. Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin) and their families. She includes footage from a speech by Malcolm X. Even her much-discussed comment about 'Becky with the good hair' is a racial reference. It's not all about cheating - that line has to do with perceptions of beauty in society. An important discussion for any curly-haired girl.
Gender: This album is really centered around Black women - just watch it through and that'll immediately become clear. Bey showcases female empowerment, but also female vulnerability. While this is important to talk about with the young women in your life, it should also be a topic of conversation with men and boys as well. The themes presented are just as important to them.
Region: This visual album appears to me to be distinctly Southern. I'm a proud New Yorker and even though I now live just south of the Mason-Dixon, Southern culture is not something I'm very familiar with. I know that New Orleans culture is featured pretty prominently with many of the traditions and festivals unique to the area on display in several songs. I definitely plan to learn more about some of the images I saw. Do the same with your teens & tweens!
Socioeconomic Status/Class: In one of the interludes between songs, a man talks about the significance of meeting the President. One of the things he mentions is that the President is from the 'hood just like him: Chi-Raq (aka Chicago & a Spike Lee movie). It appeared that it was important for Beyoncé to show the reality for people who don't necessarily have a lot of money, opportunity, or hope (as the man who met Obama described).
Sexual Orientation: This one is brief in the visual album, but in 'All Night' Queen Bey shows examples of couples in love. A few of those are same-sex couples. This is done without fanfare (which can be even more powerful), but it's there.
Age: Beyoncé mostly showcases Black people, especially women, in the visual album and she shows women of all ages. There appears to be a celebration of females; from young girls to 90-year-old women - especially in the song 'Freedom'.
There are so many ways to go about actually talking about this album with your teen or tween. Here are some potential areas of interest. Pick your child's favorite and start the conversation:
So dive right in! It will definitely be entertaining and as you and your teen/tween continue to have discussions. You are sure to learn something together. Let me know how it goes. What was challenging? What interested your child the most? Where did you start? Most importantly, which was everyone's favorite song?!? Leave a comment below.
**A quick disclaimer: The lyrics of this album are quite explicit. There are sexual themes and profanity (in my opinion, not much worse than most PG-13 movies nowadays). If you are concerned about that, listen to the album beforehand. But keep in mind, that your child may be able to see the album even if you don't approve. Just something to consider...
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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!