In a world where many buy into the rhetoric of otherness and extreme nationalist sentiments creep on today’s political scene, raising global children becomes a necessity that cannot be overlooked by parents and educators alike.
Nowadays it is important to embrace the fact that gaining a global mindset should not be conceived as an “either-this or-that” subject. To support globalism doesn’t make us less patriotic. To favor nationalism doesn’t stop us from being global aware. This otherness idea is pulling our world apart at the moment and our children are the only hope to bring it back together in the future.
From our own experience as a multicultural family living overseas, we conclude that to increase our children’s cultural intelligence we needed to keep track of the three Big C’s: commitment, consistency and creativity. Commitment to the important objective of thinking globally and building bridges between our differences and commonalities. Consistency to constantly feed our kids with useful information about other cultures. Creativity to promote global awareness in a fun way while using age appropriate language and material.
How to bring the three Big C’s to the reality of your own family?
Here are a few tips to help you raise global minded citizens at home. Remember that this list is by no means exhaustive, if you decide to start the rewarding adventure of promoting cultural awareness in your family make sure you use as many resources, tools and creatives ideas as possible to obtain the best outcome.
- Make room for a world map
Children learn a huge amount through their senses and for that they need lots of relevant opportunities to explore the objects around them. What better way to understand the abstract idea of countries, geographical distance and cultural connections than with a world map?
World maps come in every size, color, texture and some even include sounds! It doesn’t have to be an expensive map, that’s up to you, but it is key to acquire a map that is colorful to attract your child’s attention. Additionally, choose a special place to hang your map up. Family rooms are great places to display your map. We spend a huge deal of time in the kitchen, so ours is hanging up right there in the kitchen next to our breakfast table.
Once you own a world map, use it! Ask your children to point where their home country is and go from there. The possibilities to explore a world map are numerous! Some fun ideas is to work with your kiddos locating countries where Halloween is celebrated; write some sentences about an specific country chosen by your family or even make a 60-second presentation of Christmas around the world during snack time.
Did I already say that you need to be creative?
- Start exploring your own culture
It is proven that to respect somebody else’s traditions you need to start by embracing your own. For your kids to grow up global, it is necessary to build a foundation strong enough to support all the new info that will improve their cultural intelligence.
Please do remember that to love someone or something we have to love and accept ourselves first. Same applies to culture. If you and your child don’t know your own traditions, how will you establish commonalities between you and other people’s culture?
Therefore begin by exploring local language, festivals, food, literature and art. Schedule a few weeks for your family to really experience its own cultural identity. Highlight things done at home that are part of your cultural background. Help your kids express who they are, form ideas and connections over this period of time. If they are too young to express their interests and opinions through language, encourage them to use art as a form of communication.
Don’t forget to enroll relatives and friends in this adventure. If you don’t reside in your birth country, connecting with grandparents who can provide a clearer idea of your family’s cultural identity is a must! Your mission is to expose your child to his or her roots. This is something that will benefit all family members and surely increase your CQ (cultural intelligence).
- Discover your artistic side
Art projects are a wonderful way to explore culture. But how to use crafts to learn about other countries? Gather information from the Internet to write a schedule of art projects for your children. Also, highlight important holidays around the world and search for fun ideas to use art to discover new traditions. The arts provide a fantastic opportunity for young children to holistically learn about the world.
It is a great idea to invite relatives and teachers to help children with their multicultural art projects as well. Keep in mind that the possibilities are endless and crafts aren’t restricted to just painting and gluing stuff. Encourage your kids to take photographs or draw an abstract picture of their lives at home and of what they see during travels. For more cross-cultural inspiration visit multicultural blogs, Pinterest, and other websites that promote diversity awareness.
- Time for Journalism
Provide your children with a notebook, pencil, colored pencils, old magazines, and newspapers and invite them to put on their writers cap. Journalism is a powerful tool to learn about ourselves, our own culture and other countries’ traditions. It is also a great way to track progress, so your kid can see for himself how far he has come since starting his growing-up-global journey.
By setting aside fifteen minutes twice a week in the evenings to journal, your children commit time to their multicultural adventure each week and that allows them to check in, express their own emotions about traditions, and redirect their focus. Maybe there are certain aspects of a culture that they don’t agree with, or that they don’t understand well. This is the opportunity to review the impact of diversity awareness in your child’s life and learn how to accept other people’s traditions in a respectful manner.
- Put on your aprons and chef hats
Cooking can be an effective way to protect our culture, our food and our family stories. It is also a great resource to learn about other country’s identity and connect with people from around the world. The significance of a meal goes beyond the taste and aromas, a traditional meal creates a deep connection between food, kinship and culture. And what’s best? Children love to cook!
Arm yourself with recipes from around the world including your own family recipes. Involve your children in the cooking part and explain to them the relevance of such a meal for the culture of a country. Relate food to holidays to enhance the learning experience. I have always stressed the story of the ingredients, where they come from, their taste and unique features. The goal is to teach our children about diverse others by doing and tasting culture.
Did you find some other great ideas of your own while reading this article? If yes, share them with us down in the comments.
If no, don’t feel discourage. Here is a tip you can use right away: talk to your children about their favorite traditions from your own culture this evening during dinner. Remember to be passionate and curious about cultures and your kids will follow your example. Be driven to spread cultural awareness and appreciation of your own culture through art, writing, food, and observation.
It is a challenging journey but oh so rewarding! You will enjoy it!