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April 8, 2016


Children start forming opinions about themselves and other people from the age of two. Therefore, it is important for parents to help their children appreciate differences and recognise and reject stereotypical ideas. In other words, parents should help their children develop diversity awareness.

The term “diversity” refers to numerous categories of individual differences, including: population group, culture, gender, spirituality, language, disability, sexuality, age; educational level, skills, parental status, marital status, family background, vocational interests, career aspirations, geographic differences; social status, physical and mental conditions; communication styles; as well as personality attributes and working styles. To conclude simply, diversity refers to the many different ways in which people differ.

Children’s attitudes towards other individuals are often strongly influenced by their degree of knowledge about and attitudes towards diversity, which stems from their family and social environments (i.e. school). Negative attitudes and social exclusion are often the result of children’s lack of knowledge about what diversity means. Diversity training can change negative perceptions and attitudes and can cause individuals to acquire new, positive, predetermined behaviours.



Diversity awareness programmes/interventions are one popular means of increasing knowledge of differences, promoting awareness and acceptance of people with a different appearance, needs, abilities and skills and thus reducing negative attitudes. These programmes take diverse forms and structures, focus on different ages and demonstrate varying levels of effectiveness. Some widely used diversity awareness interventions implemented by educational institutions include the following:

  1. Personal contact with people with a different appearance, needs, abilities and skills.
  2. Using online videos: for instance, we may not be able to bring a wheelchair basketball team to our home or class, but we can show clips of the game with a click of the mouse.
  3. Using virtual reality: designing virtual reality programmes to teach children about the accessibility and attitudinal barriers encountered by their peers with mobility impairments, to give an example.
  4. Simulation exercises (simulation has been the cornerstone of virtual reality): for instance, exercises in which people are blind-folded.

A popular diversity awareness intervention used by parents is: Story-time, discussions and home reading around diversity. There are some really good stories that can promote diversity awareness in young children.

What do you think the word ‘diversity’ mean to your child? Have you ever asked him/her?



DIAMANTE, T., REID, C.L. & GIGLIO, L., 1995. Making the right training move. HR Magazine, 40 (3), 60-63.

HOPKINS, W.E., 1997. Ethical dimensions of diversity. London: Sage.

ISON, N., McINTYRE, S., ROTHERY, S., SMITHERS-SHEEDY, H., GOLDSMITH, S., PARSONAGE, S. & FOY, L., 2010. ‘Just like you’: A disability awareness programme for children that enhanced knowledge, attitudes and acceptance: Pilot study findings. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 13 (5), pp. 360-368.

LAIRD, D., 1985. Approaches to training and development (2nd ed.). Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

THOMAS V.C., 1994. The downside of diversity. Training and Development, 48 (1), 60-62.

UNITED NATIONS (UN), Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, in UN Document, A/Res/44/23.


Category: articles



About the author



Eva Sakellaridi is an education consultant and a researcher at the University College London (UCL), Institute of Education (IoE). She has a BA in English Language and Literature (2006), a Diploma in TESOL (2010) and a Certificate in Educational Psychology (2011). She also holds a MA in Education with Distinction from the University of Bath (2014). Among Eva’s main broad fields of interest are character education, educational psychology, school leadership and school improvement. Prior to becoming an education consultant, Eva worked in a range of public and private, preschool, primary and secondary educational organisations, universities and charities in a variety of capacities including classroom teacher, remedial teacher, student mentor, education programme manager and deputy school manager. Throughout her teaching career, she has observed that most children acquire academic skills more effortlessly and quicker compared to lifelong skills and has witnessed many and various cases of parental anxiety and concern about children’s character development and learning. As a result, Eva has always used scientific research to explore and personalise old and new pedagogical methods to empower both children and their parents.

Penelope’s Loom


Welcome to “Penelope’s Loom”! This is the name of our collection of educational articles that includes only research-based information on education, educational psychology and parenting, taken from sources such as scientific publications, reviews of research and government reports. Our aim is to offer our readers objective, authentic, scholarly information in a clear and simple way. If you would like to learn more about any of the themes tackled in our articles, feel free to contact us at and we will send you an e-copy of the references and/or further readings.


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