Since February is Black History Month there is no better time to help teach children to accept others' differences and reject racist or biased stereotypes.
Start by trying to expose children to a variety of influences in their community. Get to know people of different races, religions, and cultural backgrounds and invite their children over to play.
If the children you care for live in a largely homogenous community, you can expose the children to different races and cultures by stocking up on books, videos, dolls, toys, and posters or photos that show people of different races, genders, and physical abilities engaged in a variety of activities.
A diversity of images of males and females, whites and blacks, and people of all races will broaden your child's appreciation of both similarities and differences without glossing over the subject.
You also can expose the children to people of different races and cultures by carefully choosing television shows that present characters with different backgrounds. All chidren enjoy watching kids like themselves on television. But, unless the child is white, this may be difficult on most shows — especially shows on commercial television. Though many children's television programs do offer either sterotypes or limited diversity, if you look, you will find several good programs (mostly on public television) that do present differences in a positive light. Shows like Sesame Street, Barney & Friends, and Reading Rainbow, for example, feature multicultural casts and features that will expose your child to many different cultures.
Your local children's librarian can probably help you find a good selection of multicultural books and perhaps videos, too.
Tomorrow on Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Blog: Reducing gender role stereotypes.