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HOW TO TEACH DIVERSITY TO YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS

 

Learning to tolerate and celebrate diversity cab be quite challenging for many of our kiddos with special needs.  Especially those on the autism spectrum. 
 
Some of these children have stuck thinking around ethnicity, race, religion, etc. 
 
And they can be very verbal about their preferences…often, at the most inopportune times.
 
 

For these kiddos, we need to teach diversity, yes…but we can’t forget some of the important, underlying social skills that can make it more challenging:

 
  • Flexible Thinking
  • Perspective Taking 
  • Empathy
  • Tolerance
 
Without theses skills, diversity lessons will not stick. 
 
They won’t make sense.
 
It’s important to think about ways we can help our special learners be more tolerant and accepting of others.  
 
And since our kiddos often have a harder time with this, due to overlapping challenges such as Flexible Thinking and Perspective Taking.
 
These skills must be worked on before, during and after, teaching about diversity.  That said, our kiddos who struggle with these skills may need to work on them for years.  We need not wait until they have mastered them, to teach diversity. However, we certainly need to teach them along side teaching diversity, understanding that these concepts go hand in hand.
 
This is why, teaching our kiddos about tolerance, diversity, racial justice, can be more challenging than the typical child. 
 
Ideally, I’d really like to teach our students to not only “tolerate” and “accept” others who may:
 
  • Look different than they do
  • Sound different than they do
  • Wear different clothes than they do
  • Observe different holidays than they do…etc. etc.
 
I’d like to help our students to CELEBRATE these differences.
 
 

When teaching our students how and why to be tolerant and accepting of others, we actually need to teach many skills.

 
In order to understand and accept others, our kiddos need to:
 
  • Learn about themselves: What makes them special and unique.
  • Learn about others: What makes them special and unique. 
  • What do we have in common, with others?
  • What is the difference between fact and opinion? Preferences?
  • What does it mean to respect others differences? 
 
Linked in the list above, are some of my resources that can help you teach some of these concepts.  
 
And below are a few good book recommendations that can also help to support these concepts. 
 

Here are links to a read aloud for each {great if you are still doing distance learning}

 
 

National Diversity Day

 
October 2nd, 2020 is National Diversity Day.  National Diversity Day is always on the first Friday of October.
 
National Diversity Day is a day to celebrate and embrace each other, despite our differences. It’s a day to reflect on and learn more about different cultures and ideologies.  It’s a day to think deeply about how to increase acceptance and tolerance. 
 
It’s a day to celebrate and appreciate, individuality.
 
 
Celebrating and learning more about diversity… and it’s close cousins, Inclusion and Tolerance, does not have to be difficult. There are many easy things you can do, or add to your teaching, to support these concepts on a daily basis.
 
Here are a few easy things to include in your classroom or office:
 
  •  multicultural puppets
  •  multicultural puzzles
  •  multicultural books
  •  multicultural toys/figures
 
Additionally:
 
 skin colors construction paper
 skin colors markers
 skin colors crayons
 skin colors paints
 skin colors yarn
 
 
Get Creative:
 
  •  boxes/containers from food from other cultures {great in a dramatic play area}
  •  bulletin board featuring photos from around the world
  •  celebrate/recognize a variety of holidays
  •  add/include topics and people from various cultures into your curriculum 
  •  play music from other cultures
  •  learn a dance from another culture, and do it as a brain break

 

Below are some great books to read or listen to, to help your students embrace diversity.

 

Click on the links below to go to a read aloud of that story:

 
 
 
I hope these ideas help you to support your special learners to better understand and accept diversity in and out of their classrooms.
 
Thanks So Much and Happy Teaching!
Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kids
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