Diversity is who we are. Equity is what we strive to provide. Inclusion is how we get there.
Here we go!
It’s the end of Labor Day Weekend, and school is just about to begin (or perhaps you are reading this just after school has already started).
One of the reasons I personally chose to work at The Park School is the organizational commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Heck, it’s my job title. Even more heck, it fits on a business card and my tiny name tag. Impressive!
The Park School is a community of diverse families, people, learners, and teachers. But, that diversity doesn’t mean much unless we all find ways to learn about each other and to interact. We have to engage in INCLUSION. After all, INCLUSION is the result of making sure that people in a diverse community know how to interact with each other and that we take steps to make sure we are all part of the every day life of our school.
Recently a fantastic article has been making its way around social media called “6 Ways Parents Can Teach Their Kids About Race and Diversity.” I loved it. It’s short, simple and to the point. The author briefly says these six things (I’m short-handing because I really hope you read the full piece!):
Have a diverse group of friends.
Purchase books and toys that support diversity.
Expose your child to diverse music, art, films and TV shows.
Talk about current events.
Go the extra mile (literally) to surround yourself with diverse groups.
Don’t laugh at racist jokes or engage in banter that perpetuates racist stereotypes.
As we begin our year at The Park School, here are some very actionable ways that you can incorporate these six aspects into your life:
Have a diverse group of friends. Introduce yourself on the first day of school to other adults/parents/guardians in your child’s class. Surely, if you are a returning Parkie, you’ll know people. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to new folks — I promise you they’ll appreciate the radical kindness that you show them. Further, within the first two weeks of school, set up a little play date or even a “let’s meet a few minutes before school to have coffee in the lobby” together. This extra act of hospitality is especially important for any families who might have a different family structure, racial or ethnic background, or just new to The Park School. As a new family of color here at Park, I can tell you that I was incredibly nervous meeting other parents in my children’s grades; and I was so thankful for people who went out of their way to say “hello and welcome” to me!
Purchase books and toys that support diversity. Wander through your child’s classroom (especially in Lower and Middle Division) and see what books the teachers have on display. They have been very intentional about including diverse representation in their class. Ask to borrow that book or buy one for your home. Or, if you need those first few minutes to settle your child, choose one of those books to read together before drop off. If you are unable to come to Park in the mornings, email your teacher and ask for a few book recommendations or if the teacher can send a book home every week. For Upper Division, talk about the books they read this summer — they were intentionally chosen for their themes about diversity and inclusion.
Expose your child to diverse music, art, films and TV shows. Got a long car ride home? Play music from a community or culture that is not typically played in your house. Celebrate the first week of school by trying a new restaurant or flip through some art from different communities or culture.
Talk about current events. Current events — I mean, what isn’t happening in our world today? So much is going on. For younger students, what is the “first day of school” like in other countries? In other parts of the country? For older students, they can handle some of the current events politics — have some dinner talk about it so they can get used to engaging in these dialogues with you.
Go the extra mile (literally) to surround yourself with diverse groups.This is my favorite! Choose an after school activity that is outside of your neighborhood or community. Join the Y in the next town over. SIgn up for lessons or a sport at a rec center different from the one you are currently in. Yes, this may mean a few extra minutes in the car or commuting or scheduling. That’s a choice we make. If not during the school year, be mindful about signing up for camps or lessons or sports during the summer in other neighborhoods.
Don’t laugh at racist jokes or engage in banter that perpetuates racist stereotypes. Walk away. Or, if you’re feeling prepared and brave, address the situation. Some of my favorite “verbal frisbees” (phrases I throw out hoping someone will “catch” them) are: “Ouch, that didn’t feel so good to hear that word”; or “I’m not sure what’s funny about that”; or “Hmm… that’s an interesting way to phrase that.” Our children are watching — they watch how we react, what we permit, and what we address. And, they take our cues about how to address issues of injustice and unkindness by what we allow in our own lives.
Looking forward to a great school year filled with lots of learning and growing together!
Peace and Park,