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LAUPlifting, September 2017 – Diversity in Learning, Diversity in Life

Diversity (n): The quality, state, fact, or instance of being different. Variety; multiformity.

Here in Los Angeles, one of the most diverse American cities by any measure, it’s no surprise diversity is highly valued and fiercely defended.

Respecting and promoting diversity is a powerful tool, especially when it comes to the impressionable minds of children; the attitudes they perceive about inclusivity form powerful impressions, creating a worldview they’ll carry throughout their entire lives.

Diversity can mean many things: A few of the more prominent definitions refer to race, age, and sex/gender, which are all concepts children begin exploring the moment they begin to speak. It’s important to remember that even babies and toddlers watch adults for cues about how to react to the world around them; our responsibility is to teach by example, and encourage meaningful conversation about the situations we encounter together.

LAUP is proud to have partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative in creating “Take Time. Talk” as a tool for engaging children age 0-5 in verbal and intellectual development. With tips geared toward the pre-verbal child (talking through daily routines to help children attach words to experiences) as well as preschoolers and kindergarteners (for whom open-ended questions serve to encourage language and critical thinking), this guide provides many valuable real world examples, and is available in both English and Spanish.

In September, we celebrate ethnic diversity with Hispanic Heritage Month—an especially fitting tribute in a city that reflects the contributions of people from so many backgrounds, especially from Latin America. In the most recent U.S. Census (2010), roughly 48% of Los Angeles residents (city and county) identified as Hispanic/Latino.

As our communities commemorate the history, culture, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Latin countries, think how we can teach our children about the way new generations of Hispanic Americans enrich our society, and how to think about immigrants as a whole. For a rich immersive experience on the subject, we recommend a virtual visit to the newly curated Latino Cultures in the US site by Google Arts & Culture. Here, your family can explore the people, places, history, art, food—and much more—that represent the national Latino experience.

During the month of September, we’re also able to observe and lift-up the richness diversity brings through National Grandparents Day (Sept. 10). Grandparents can be positive role models and influences, and they can provide a sense of cultural heritage and family history.

Studies clearly show that establishing a bond with grandparents is great for children in many ways. Overnight trips to Grandma’s house, for example, may be less traumatic than sleepovers with peers and can help kids develop independence. It’s been shown that grandparents themselves experience health benefits from the relationship, and time spent playing with and reading to grandkids improves a child’s developmental and learning skills.

Celebrated children’s book author Patricia Polacco, quoted in an article for the American Grandparents Association (AGA), credits her close relationship with her grandparents for inspiring the majority of her 70 books. If she had not known her grandparents, she said, “I would not have written the entire body of work. I am sure of it.”

Diversity can come in many forms, whether it’s ethnic, cultural, or characterized by age. So what more can we do for our children? Our shared goal is a simple one, perhaps best expressed by Priscilla Shirer from Dallas-based Going Beyond Ministry, who supports teaching that “oneness is not sameness.”

Being united in principle and purpose does not preclude embracing our differences, and that’s something even a toddler can understand. So, for the month of September, let’s remain inspired to move beyond appreciation of our immediate family, and recognize and respond to the vital contributions of other generations, cultures and experiences.

For further tools and ideas on the topic of diversity, visit our monthly book picks.

Return to LAUPlifting, September 2017