We always talk about how important it is to be kind, but how can you actually teach your child to be kind to all people? I am going to give you some simple steps on how to teach inclusion to your children or students. These are all tips that I personally use with my children and my students. So, they have worked for me! Let me know if they work for you.
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Welcome to Inclusion Starts Now blog! I am so happy you are here. This is a safe place for all questions or comments about inclusion. When I say "inclusion" I am focusing on including people with disabilities, but as we all know, inclusion isn't only focused on one group. Inclusion is for everyone. Here are 5 tips that will help you teach inclusion to your child.
1. Set up opportunities to be inclusive
"Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone." -George Dei
Inclusion starts with you. The responsibility of inclusion shouldn't fall on people with disabilities. How can you practice inclusion? By practicing! Bring your children to inclusive parks, bring them to inclusive events, and supports businesses that hire people with disabilities.
Inclusive parks are a great way to have fun with everyone. If someone is playing alone, invite them to play. Bring some toys that all children can play with. Get creative on how to give access to everyone and consider their disability. If the child is non-verbal, don't ask them questions that need a bigger answer, try yes/no questions. Or explain the situation.
Inclusive events are another great way to practice inclusion. There are plenty of events out there that are advertised for people with disabilities, but will also include people without disabilities. My friends inclusive camp, Camp Kelly, is an inclusive camp. Although it is advertised for children with disabilities, all children are welcomed and should consider going.
Supporting businesses is a great way to start the conversation. We love to support Able Coffee Roasters in Southern California and when we do, we practice basic conversation starters, talk about Autism (as that is what most of the workers identify as), and how everyone is capable of working and deserve the opportunity to be a part of their community.
Educating your children about people different than them is so meaningful! I love to buy books that has representation of people of different abilities, cultures, and backgrounds. Here are some of my favorite inclusive books.
(Click on the links below to purchase!)
3. Answer all of the questions as best as you can
“It requires searching for reasons why we might be wrong-not for reason why we might be right- and revising our views based on what we learn” Adam Grant in his book Think Again
I know it can be so hard figuring out answers to those tough questions, my best advice is honestly, simply, and if appropriate, include the person. And something that is very very very important is to be easy on yourself. Yes I am still working on this one. But it is ok to answer wrong and to reevaluate and learn to answer not wrong.
For example, if a child says, "why do they look like an alien?" (yes this has been said to me)
Respond with more appropriate language like, "Are you asking why he looks different from you? He was born with [insert disability] so he might look different, but you know he loves to dance. Do you like to dance?"
if you child says, "Why is that person in a wheelchair?"
Say something like "Some people need a wheelchair to get around. Maybe we can go ask them how their wheelchair works!"
Children are curious. They don't ask these questions to be mean, they want answers. Let's give them some answers. Which means being the example if we need help answering those questions.