As an artist educator, it’s important to be aware of social settings within their immediate environment. For instance, consider scenarios such as two 5-year-old children sculpting with clay together, where one child, who is white, curiously asks their black peer whether everyone in her family also has weird hair; or in a theater play, a non-indigenous kid put on beads and strings, claiming to embody their “spirit animal”; alternatively, in a karaoke session, a child of Asian descent may be encouraged to select a K-pop song….and more important, how do we, as educators, harnessing the power of the arts as a means to foster understanding and bridge differences?
For me, we must approach these situations with a foundation of respect and empathy, at the same time, considering the development psychology of children at different stages to facilitate and bridge the differences. At the age of 5, kids may not have an extensive vocabulary to articulate differences, we can guide them that being unique is a beautiful aspect of individuality, something we all cherish, particularly at this tender age. By empowering children to authentically express themselves and encouraging them to learn from one another’s diverse experiences, we create an environment where they can embrace and celebrate these differences.