Teaching children to love and embrace different cultures is not only important but a lot of fun, too. Young kids have no biases and are always down for whatever good things are happening. That’s why I’m so excited about this guest post by Rebecca Peragine, founder of Children Inspire Design. She shares some awesome ideas for how your family can explore and appreciate other cultures without packing a single suitcase.
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 the 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 bring some of the richness of other 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. Then download language apps for kids on 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.
#2: Turn Up the Beat
Finding cultural music for kids is easier than ever thanks to music sites 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 isn’t annoying like some other tracks. My favorites are African Dreamland, Reggae Playground and Caribbean Playground.
#3: Hunger for Learning
A few Fridays each month my family picks a country we’d like to explore. 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 some world-learning nights we’ve enjoyed:
- Pinocchio + pasta and meatballs = Italian adventure
- Mulan + takeout= Quick trip to China
- Rio+ Brazilian Rice= Living room Carnival (including Caipirinhas for mom and dad!)
#4: Map It Out
Pull up a world map on your phone or computer and point out where you live. This gives your little one a visual of just how many amazing countries are in this world. You can even frame one – they make great pieces of art and give you a teaching tool that’s always at your fingertips. Bonus: Guests will be super impressed when your child recites ALL the South American countries by sight.
#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 these ideas inspire you and your family. At the very least, you could enjoy a lovely family evening of spaetzle and the Sound of Music.