February is Black History Month, and that provides you, as a parent, with some wonderful opportunities to teach your children to celebrate diversity. Here are some ideas to help get you started:
1. Buy your child a book on the history and/or culture of African-Americans in the United States or check one out from your local library. If the child is very young, accompany story-telling time with appropriate paper dolls or toy dolls by using them to animate the tale.
2. Take your child(ren) to a community Black History Month event. You can often find these by looking over the events listings in newspapers, at colleges, and at libraries.
3. Do a family art project with an African-American theme.
4. Have your child participate in a Black History Month event or project at his or her school. Be sure to use the school project as the hub of discussions at home. Use the project’s theme as the jumping off point for your child exploring related subjects.
5. Together research some famous African-American figures in U.S. history. Have your child do a brief report on that person. Encourage them to get creative with their report.
6. Look up some African traditional meals online and prepare a dish or two at home. Have your child participate in the menu choice and preparation.
7. Dress up for a day in some form of traditional African clothing or piece of clothing (this can even include jewelry).
8. Listen to some traditional African music together or acquire a CD or iTunes album of well-known African-American musicians or singers. Some ideas include Motown artists, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Chuck Berry, James Brown, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. Discuss their impact on culture and modern music. Don’t forget to make it relevant to what your child may listen to now.
9. Take a field trip to an African-American exhibition, museum, or historical location.
10. Year round, don’t forget to engage and maintain open discussions with your child(ren) and encourage any questions or issues he or she may have living in a transracial family. Enjoy diversity!