What is normal?

Recently I travelled to Asia and I was reminded just how outdated the concept of normal is. In the toilets, I felt embarrassed after I let a woman standing behind me in line take the squat toilet while I waited for a “normal” toilet to become available.

At the Hindu temple that we visited I watch intrigued as a family were marked with ash after their offering was blessed. I also wondered at the Indian family eating breakfast with their hands. I think the same family probably watched in shock as the weird Australians swam in the hotel pool during the freak tropical storm. Actually, come to think about it, I think it was the same look we got from locals when we swam in July at Rottnest in a similar downpour.

Travel is a great way to come face to face with your assumptions but you don’t need to get on a plane to develop an open mind in your child. Here are our tips.

Seek out a different cultural experience – Take the family to a restaurant or food shop from a different culture. It could be as easy as going into Aldi which allows us to experience different foods from other cultures (or butter that is not Western Star) and a different shopping experience. Or maybe you could find a foreign film or TV show. Netflix have a number in their children’s movie section, you just have to scroll down or check out the delightful Totoro from Studio Ghibli (Japan’s equivalent to Disney).

Find commonalities – There are lot of things that make us different especially when your child is meets a person who has a disability or is in their own way different from them. They will naturally notice the difference and may have a reaction that is embarrassing or uncomfortable. Help your child by pointing out the things that are the same. If they meet a child, maybe help them find what they share - do they like the same TV shows or making art?

Teach your child empathy – Assisting your child to understand how to “walk in another’s point of view” is such a great way to get them to develop their perspective. It can be as simple as asking your child to think about how another person might see a situation.

Question your child’s assumptions – In our workshops I often ask children when they wash. Once we discovered that some shower in the evening, some in the morning and in one class one little boy showered twice a day. There were a few sniggers when someone commented that was “weird”. I find it a great way to illustrate that what we do is often only our normal. Teach your children to question and listen to accept others differences.

Teach your children to question and listen to accept others differences.

Be a role model - Issac Asimov said that “Your assumptions are your windows onto the world. Scrub them off once in a while or the light won’t come in.” Parents are one of the most important role models for our children. Take time to think about your prejudices and if your stuck ask a trusted friend or family.

The goal is not tolerance but acceptance. Assisting your family understand that there is no such thing as “normal” – it all depends on your perspective.

This term our theme is No Big Deal and children will learn about perspective in life and art. Art and play projects will assist children in developing an open mind and the ability to put things in perspective when things go wrong. We have two different workshops – Kids Art Club at the Artspace Collective in Scarborough on Tuesdays or Very Arty Afternoons at Quintilian on Wednesdays. More details here.

We are also delighted to be starting a co-curricular course for Perth College however this is only for students at the school.

If you are a parent or know someone at the Junior school we would love you to let them know by forwarding this email.

We are putting the final touches on our October school holiday program which will include LEGO challenge, Tote bag decoration and Embroidery for older children so make sure you are following us on our social channels for notifications of these exciting classes.