Multiculturalism is a word that’s long been associated with Australia. Our country has many different people from diverse backgrounds. By encouraging children to experience multicultural activities at home, it helps them to build positive relationships.
The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that all children have the right to feel accepted and respected. When children develop connections to culture and community, it inspires a strong sense of personal identity and belonging.
Culture is one of the essential components of growing a child’s identity. It provides them with a healthy sense of who they are. Teaching your child to respect cultural diversity while showing them how to recognise universal characteristics that we all share helps to establish belonging.
We’ve put together some of our favourite diversity and inclusion activities that you can do with your child as a family. They’re fun and engaging and include:
- Participating in community multicultural activities
- Reading multicultural children’s books
- Learning about your multicultural diversity as a family
- Exploring cultural diversity with kids.
Get involved in your community’s multicultural days
Our communities are made up of many rich, diverse cultures. Community groups help people come together to support and celebrate their diversity. Families can benefit from these groups by accessing their services and getting more involved in community events.
Children also benefit from being active in their community’s multicultural days. It provides them with a sense of inclusiveness. By valuing diversity and showing respect for other cultures, it creates a sense of belonging for everyone.
What’s on in your community this month? Select at least one multicultural event that the whole family can attend. You might discover local events for:
- Activities for Harmony Week.
- A multicultural month or week celebrating cultural diversity in your home state.
- Indigenous events and celebrations.
- Multicultural events and celebrations for different cultures and immigrant communities.
Read multicultural children’s books
Multicultural children’s books are as diverse as our nation. They contain characters from diverse ethnicities in an inspiring and original way. Pictures in multicultural children’s books can be used as a point of reference. They provide your child with the option to ask questions.
Children’s books are an excellent tool for empowering young learners to gain an understanding of their own culture and that of others.
Some of our favourite picture books with multicultural themes for ages 3-5 years are:
- I’m Australian Too by Mem Fox and Ronojoy Ghosh (2017)
- Whoever You Are by Mem Fox and Leslie Staub (1998)
- The Lost Girl by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Leanne Tobin (2014)
- My Two Blankets by Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood (2014)
- Colour Me by Ezekiel Kwaymullina, illustrated by Moira Court (2017).
Learn about your family’s multicultural diversity
Children should be encouraged to develop an understanding that every family has their own traditions, beliefs, values and cultures. Regardless of our origins or beliefs, we should treat each other with respect and dignity.
As a family, you can look into your ancestry to learn where different traditions and customs have originated. You may also identify other cultures in your family-tree branches that aren’t as obvious and learn more about them with your children.
Investigate, share and celebrate your family’s multicultural diversity with your children:
- Find out where your family and first names originate and share their meanings with each other.
- Research and uncover new family members in your family tree.
- Organise a family reunion with immediate and broader members of your family to celebrate your origins and diversity.
- Share a plate of your favourite international/cultural cuisine from your family background to share with other children at your daycare (check for prohibited foods first).
Explore and celebrate cultural diversity with kids
It’s entirely natural for children to observe and comment on differences between themselves and other children. It’s up to families to demonstrate acceptance of cultural diversity for kids and to frame it as a strength.
By fostering respect for cultural diversity, parents help their child to:
- Develop a strong sense of identity.
- Explore their cultural background.
- Develop an appreciation for cultures other than their own.
- Learn and respect differences.
- Recognise the aspects that we all share.
Children can learn so much from the cultural customs of their friends. Lead by example and show your child how to express a real interest in diverse cultures. Try these multicultural activities at home with your toddler or preschooler:
- Cook delicious foods from around the world together.
- Put up a world map and learn about different countries. Ask your child to select one country each week as the focus.
- Learn how to say hello, goodbye, and I love you in different languages.
- Sing songs from different countries.
- Discover the language, indigenous tribe and nation groups in your local community.
- Dance and move to different tunes from different countries.
- Set a great example by welcoming new refugees and immigrants into your community.
- Incorporate multicultural toys and dolls into your child’s playthings.
- Visit a religious service different to your own to give your child new experiences.
- Play games from different countries.
Join in our multicultural activities at Petit Early Learning Journey
Children benefit from exposure to the many cultural differences that make up Australia. At Petit ELJ, our centres promote multiculturalism to help children develop an appreciation for the diversity of cultures in our society, but also to encourage a strong sense of identity.
We invite families to share their cultures and customs. By supporting an environment that encourages differences, we aim to provide a wholesome, diverse, learning environment. Come for a tour and let your child’s curiosity loose at your nearest Petit ELJ centre.