In today’s complicated world, we still live in a time of marginalized groups and discrimination.
Though we’ve made a lot of progress, there are still kids isolated by their peers because they look, talk or act differently. 
If we want to create a better world, it’s essential to teach inclusion at a young age or else we risk the next generation growing up with the same difficulties we currently face. 
Here is why teaching inclusion at a young age is so important. 

It Shapes Values

Through observation and teaching, kids start forming their views of right and wrong from a very young age. This makes it a necessary time to teach inclusion. 
When a young child runs into another child with a different culture or mental ability, it can shock them. It’s a natural reaction from someone new to the world to experience something new. These are the perfect opportunities to explain to the children how all humans are different and that they should respect each other for who they are. 
Some children don’t notice the differences between themselves and their peers so young, but teaching them about diversity and inclusion is still important. As they grow, they’ll know what to do when they begin noticing the differences. 
Kids must learn to respect each other’s differences. Encouraging ignoring them will only lead to inequitable treatment by not teaching them to accommodate different holidays, diets or abilities. 
There are schools where neurodivergent students are kept in separate rooms, barely interacting with neurotypical classes. While it may be necessary to have lessons for different skill levels, isolating these children creates social barriers they can carry into adulthood.
When kids are separate from those with different needs, it can unintentionally create thoughts of superiority in young children. They don’t understand the actions of other kids and see themselves as too different from them. Letting the children interact with other kids of all abilities will also remove any fear or mystery and help them be more compassionate towards others. 
Teaching young children that everyone has equal value and has different needs can shape their importance in the years to come. If you wait until they are older, there are chances that they’ll get exposed to unsavory opinions through social media or on the street that can cause prejudice. 
Your children mustn’t think of themselves as more or less worthy than their peers. 
Letting kids interact with kids who live differently will ingrain in them the correct values that will guide their treatment of others and their self-worth. 

It Encourages Friendships 

Young kids feel more comfortable around familiar foods, languages and songs. Once again, this is normal, and it’s your job to realize the kids they may be avoiding could be their new best friends. 
The world can be a crazy, terrifying place and your kids must know how to develop quality friendships with others that will have their back. Not teaching inclusion can cause your child to miss out on interacting with other kids they may grow to cherish. 
Encouraging your young child to get to know everyone in their class or playgroup will allow them to interact safely with strangers. It teaches them that having conversations and making friends shouldn’t be stopped just because the other person has a different appearance or worldview. 
These skills are vital for being open to their peers as they continue learning about different cultures, conditions and sexualities. 
The world can be a cruel place. It never hurts to have someone else that loves your child. When kids make friends who are different from them, they grow up more open-minded about different food, clothing and traditions. 

How to Teach Inclusion

You want to teach inclusion in a way young kids understand but without coming across as constantly pointing out people’s differences. 
One of the best ways you can teach inclusion is through example. If you model respect, you expect a child to show it to others and they will catch on to your behavior. 
Teaching compassion and empathy is another way to teach inclusion. Indeed, your child won’t end up being best friends with everyone. Different personalities click or clash in all stages of life. However, you must teach children to show kindness and compassion to everyone, even if they don’t want to form close friendships. 
Plenty of books and video resources can aid you in lessons about inclusion. Learning about other kids with different lives can normalize those differences before encountering them. It can also teach about a friend’s ability or culture they may not understand. 
Most importantly, don’t ignore differences. Everyone is a unique individual, and our diversity is what makes us humans. You should teach children to respect and celebrate differences, something they should continue to do throughout their lives. 

Teaching Inclusion At a Young Age

Teaching inclusion to kids at a young age will help ingrain empathy, kindness and compassion for all humans into their values. 
Celebrating diversity and teaching equity will help future generations move away from the prejudices and stereotypes of the past, creating a happier, more inclusive society. 

WRITTEN BY

Ava Roman