Encouraging acceptance and compassion through play
Here are some suggestions for activities families can enjoy at home together:
  • Create a box of materials from different cultures to encourage dramatic play. You can include anything from shiny or furry pieces of fabric to geometric blocks to cardboard boxes. Offer articles of clothing from Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Auntie that show who your family is. Mix in items from other traditions.
  • Read storybooks about caring adults and children. In My Best Friend, by Pat Hutchins, two ebullient African-American girls discover what being a friend means, in How My Parents Learned to Eat, by Ina R. Friedman, a biracial child tells the story of how her Japanese mother and American father met, fell in love, struggled to understand each other's ways, and finally married. Ask your child to create a new ending. What else might these characters do?
  • Leaf through magazines that show photos of people caring for other people, animals, and plants. Invite your child to tell you what he or she sees.
  • Share your favorite recordings that tell stories with an underlying message about compassion and acceptance. The song could be as simple as "Mary Had a Little Lamb." When Mary brought the lamb to school and all the children laughed and played when they saw it, were they laughing at Mary, or were they playing with the lamb?
  • Along with your child, create original songs about loving and caring for each other. One easy way to do this is to invent your own lyrics to familiar melodies. "Mary Had a Little Lamb" can turn into "David had a little dog, little dog, little dog. David had a little dog he loved all day long."
  • Make a home video of a celebration such as a picnic or birthday party. If you don't have a video recorder, use a camera to take photos, and place them into folders or albums. View the pictures or video later and talk about how caring made that day wonderful.
  • Have a discussion about favorite people and what you like about them. How do they show caring and compassion? Include people at school, at your house of worship, at after-school activities such as ballet or sports-even the friendly cashier at the grocery store.
  • Make gifts for relatives and friends. It may be for a birthday, a holiday - or create a special day.
  • Invite your child's friend over for a meal, involve your child in the excitement of the preparations. Include him in letter writing, phone calls, choosing the menu, simple cooking, and setting the table.