The number of Americans who speak Spanish as their first language has doubled since 1990. Everywhere we look, Spanish is becoming a part of our everyday lives. To many, unfortunately, this signifies the end of American society as we know it. The reality of the situation need not be so scary or apocalyptic, and can, instead, be an opportunity to think outside the box and open our hearts and minds in a new and exciting way.
I suppose this fear of the unknown isn't entirely our fault. We live in such a large country where a person can travel a thousand miles in each direction and still be surrounded by people who look and speak like him or her (although my southern accent has turned a few heads). It would also explain why most of us are monolingual. Simply put, we have never had to speak anything else. Thankfully, the world is changing. And because of technology that is allowing us to be more connected than ever, we are slowly becoming global citizens who are more aware of the world around us.
OK, so you may be asking, “What does all this have to do with me, my family, or my childcare?” Well, as you may have noticed already, our classrooms are changing. Our students are now required to work side by side with others who may come from a different culture, religion, or even speak a different language. This can be a wonderful, enriching experience that not only opens your child’s eyes to a different world, but can also help them become more compassionate and accepting adults.
How your child deals with these experiences, however, is ultimately up to you. Encourage your child to become friends with a student from another country. Play music from a different culture in your home! Cook a dish from a different country once a week! The possibilities are endless! Lastly, although few of us have ever lived in another country where everything is new, different and weird, encourage your child to become a more empathetic and compassionate individual. Teach them to be patient with a student who may have trouble completing the assignment in English (Can you imagine having to write an essay in Chinese?). And always, ALWAYS, encourage them to stand up for what is right and good even in the face of bullies or at the risk of being unpopular. It is when, and only when, we stop seeing those who are different as the “other” that we can finally begin treating each other with the love and respect that we all deserve as part of the same human family.
Finally, we all want our children to succeed in their careers and personally. And in a world that will ask your children to do things differently than we did, teaching them patience and acceptance is the first step to ensuring that our kids live in a more inclusive, peaceful, and loving world.
Que tenga un buen dia lleno de paz y de amor. (Have a good day full of peace and of love.)
Lynnsey@ Kids Matter