Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity

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Montessori-Inspired Respect for DiversityIt was always important to me that my children embraced and respected diversity. I was glad to have Montessori ideas to help them along the way. When my children were preschoolers, we especially focused on holidays such as Martin Luther King Day to encourage a respect for other races through books and hands-on activities.

What Research Says

According to research results shared in the book NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, it’s important to talk to children about race as early as age three. Talking about race with children (rather than trying to create “color-blind environments” for them while ignoring the topic of race) will encourage children to embrace diversity.

Montessori Education and Race

Montessori education doesn’t ignore race. Even during the preschool years, children are exposed to the continents and peoples of the world. During the elementary years, the peoples of the world are studied from a historical perspective.

Maria Montessori was a strong proponent of peace education for children. She said: “Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education.”

Celebrating Skin Color with Paint (Photo by Jessie from The Education of Ours at Mommy Moment)

Celebrating Skin Color with Paint (Photo by Jessie from The Education of Ours at Mommy Moment)

In my post “Montessori Inspiration for Martin Luther King Day,” you’ll find some wonderful activities such as Celebrating Skin Color with Paint Activity by Jessie from The Education of Ours at Mommy Moment and Collaging Kids Around the World from The Work Plan. The Montessori Continent Boxes can also be used to directly focus on the peoples of the world from an early age.

Collaging Kids Around the World (Photo from The Work Plan)

Collaging Kids Around the World (Photo from The Work Plan)

One of my favorite diversity activities isn’t necessarily a Montessori activity. It’s the classic egg activity for showing that we’re all the same on the inside. The What is Diversity? egg activity was shared by Mari from Inspired by Family Magazine at Kids Activities Blog. That activity would fit well in the Montessori curriculum – or in any educational program encouraging diversity.

More activities for peace education and conflict resolution can be found in my roundup post “Montessori-Inspired Peace Education Activities.”

My Multicultural Family

Mother's Day in San Diego - Deb, Terry, Tom, Christina, Chea, and Will

Mother’s Day in San Diego – Deb, Terry, Tom, Christina, Chea, and Will

Whether it’s from Montessori-inspired activities, honest talks about race and acceptance from a young age, or a combination of a number of factors, I’m happy to say that my now-adult children have friends from various heritages around the world. In fact, my son’s wife is African-American, Puerto Rican, Cherokee, and German. My daughter’s husband is British.

My ancestors are Finnish and Norwegian with a touch of Swedish. My husband’s ancestry is a mixture of Polish, English, Irish, French, and German. We look forward to the diversity and unity of our multicultural family now and in the next generation (when I become a grandmother in November)!


Image at the top of the post by Kikoo Kikoo.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting with the theme Learning about Diversity. This month our participants have shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter’s life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.
  • The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
  • Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
  • Differencessustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
  • Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about “semi immersion” language learning.
  • Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
  • Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
  • People.  PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn’t seem to them to be disrespectful.
  • Call Me Clarice, I Don’t Care – A True Message in Diversity — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
  • Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
  • Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
  • Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
  • The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
  • Children’s black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
  • Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
  • Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid’s art!
  • Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
  • The Difference is Me – Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out, but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
  • My daughter will only know same-sex marriage as normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
  • Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
  • EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
  • Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
  • Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
  • 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family’s place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
  • Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
  • 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
  • Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn’t do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it’s more about the little things.
  • Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn’t matter. Ethnicity doesn’t matter. Love matters.
  • The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless response to her son’s apparent prejudice.

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