Back to School: Teaching our Kids about 'Different'

 

Back to school for me brings about an excitement for my son and also for me.  When I was a kid I loved getting a new outfit, pencil box and supplies and back pack.  It was an exciting time and despite my longing for summer to never end I also looked forward to the new things to come.

As I sit on the other side as a mother now getting ready to send my son off to 1rst grade, also am thinking about my desire to preserve and protect the essence of my son his sense of self, while also helping him understand and accept his and other’s differences.

As parents I think we all wish that our children will be seen and loved for who they are by the mentors and teachers in their life.  We hope that they will be celebrated in their gifts and that they will receive guidance and support for areas that are not their forte.  

We also know that sometimes this won’t be the case, that bullying and the bystander syndrome are a real things and we can’t always protect them from the world.  But I want my children to grow up knowing that they can love and be themselves and also to stick up for others when they are being wronged.  

So how do we teach our children to go out of their way to think, learn and befriend those that don’t look like us, don’t talk like us, have different interests, or backgrounds?  How do we teach them to stick up for those that are not being treated with kindness, respect, and love?  How we teach them that we are all in this together?

I think a few ways we can do this is by having these conversations with them.  One way I’ve found helpful is to do this is by reading books.  Here are a few of recommended books by children’s authors who are talking about difficult subjects in fun and interesting ways.  

Why is he doing that? by Rachel Cuellar 4-5 years old and up.  Rachel was also a guest on my podcast The Messy Middle you can listen here

Holu the He’e Stands Up by Gail Omoto & Jane and Judy Dill 4-5 years old and up

Baseball Saved us: Ken Mochizuki 4-5 years and up

Wonder Raquel J Palacio 8 years and up

Its ok to Hug: AJ Cosmos - for mostly younger kids.