Guest post by Rebecca Peragine, founder of Children Inspire Design
Let’s face it, we are not raising children who will live and work in the same community their entire lives, talk only to people they can run into on the streets, and limit business ventures to the states. We’re bringing up future adults (yes, mom, it will happen) who will be so much more connected to the other side of world than we could ever dream.
That’s why it’s important to me to expose my children to as many cultures and languages as I can now, while they are young, so that embracing that diversity will be second nature to them as adults.
It’s not always possible, and sometimes not preferable, to travel the globe with little ones, but you can still bring some of the richness of cultures into your own home in fun and easy ways:
1. Foreign-Tongue Fun
Have your child watch Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer” and “Go, Diego, Go!” shows, download kid’s language apps to your tablet, or speak Spanish over dinner to your young ones. Little efforts like these are a good way to introduce your child to another language. Want to do more? If you teach your child to say “please” and “thank you” in Mandarin, your child can show off her superb manners to 836 million more people. Or, dig deeper with Multilingual Children where you can find a list of resources, discussion boards, and play groups for parents who want more of an immersion experience for their kids.
2. Turn Up the Beat
Finding cultural music for kids is easier than ever thanks to inventions like Pandora. If you’re feeling saucy, search for Samba and get your groove on or kick up your heels to Celtic music. Another fab source for children’s global music is Putamayo. They have children’s versions of music from around the world, and the music is not annoying as some I’ve tried. My favorites are African Dreamland, Reggae Playground and Caribbean Playground.
3. Hunger for Learning
A few Fridays each month my family picks a place to travel to and then we plan dinner and a movie night around it. It may not be an authentic experience, but it’s lots of fun. Here are a couple world-learning nights we’ve had:
Pinocchio + pasta and meatballs = Italian adventure
Mulan + take out= Quick trip to China
Rio+ Brazilian Rice= Living room Carnival (including Caipirinhas for mom and dad!)
4. Map It Out
Showing your child where you live and how many amazing countries and cultures there are out there is easy when you have a world map handy. They make great pieces of art and give you a teaching tool right at your fingertips. Bonus: when your child shows your dinner guests that he can recite ALL South American countries by sight, you’ll know you’re a special mom.
5. Love Your Google Earth
We have a blast in my house using Google Earth to search for someone’s home. We go on global adventures, researching what people’s homes in other countries look like. I let the kids pick the country – say,Borneo – and then we zoom in until we can see someone’s home. It’s a super cool way to show your kids how people around the world live.
I hope this list helps you navigate your way to raising your own global citizens. At the very least, you could enjoy a lovely family evening of Spatzle and the Sound of Music.