Encouraging cultural awareness in children is vital, especially in the increasingly globalised world of today. Younger generations will be meeting and working with people from more diverse and international backgrounds than ever before. With that in mind, now's an important time to be educating our young people early on about other cultures, nationalities and ways of being.
Whether you're a parent or educator (or both!), there are so many ways that you can help foster cultural intelligence in today's young people. For this week's blog, we'll be talking through five simple things you can do to help nurture cultural awareness in your children without leaving your hometown!
Learn a new language
Learning a different language is one of the best ways to help your child become more culturally aware. Language pupils at school are often taught about the culture of that country, as well as the language itself. This gives your child the opportunity to develop a greater understanding of different cultures, and the way different people live their lives. Learning languages encourages vital social skills such as empathy and tolerance. It also helps your child develop a more inclusive, multi-cultural mind-set, and will set them up for amazing opportunities in the future.
Share stories from different cultures
Stories are such a powerful part of childhood. At the most basic level, they're a great source of entertainment. But they also help inspire and grow our imagination, and form a fundamental part in shaping our world views. Exposing your child to stories from a wider range of nations and cultures allows them to see things from different perspectives, breaking down barriers before they even get the chance to build up. Coloursofus.com lists a bunch of great children's books that emphasise multiculturalism.
Get creative in the kitchen
Learning to cook authentic dishes from different world cuisines is a great way to get the kids engaged with different cultures. Make it fun - try cooking something totally new together, and have them help you in the kitchen. Check out these kid-friendly recipes. Or if you want to go really authentic, why not sign up for a cooking class in your area? Better yet, simply eating out at a good ethnic restaurant is always a great family experience. It's also a brilliant way to break your child out of their foodie comfort zones (even if it takes a bit of trial and error!).
Get involved in local community celebrations
The world is a much smaller place these days. No matter where you live, there are bound to be different cultures and communities close by. Maybe you're expats yourselves living in a country whose culture is totally different to yours. Either way, embracing diversity is fun, and attending cultural celebrations is a great way to get your kids involved. Keep an eye out for celebrations on your calendar and see if there's anything happening nearby that could make for a fun family day out.
Celebrate your own culture and heritage
Respecting and celebrating other cultures is brilliant and so important. But it's also important to connect with our own background and heritage. Sharing old photographs, stories and passing on traditions can all help your child feel connected to their roots. If you live in your home country, or next time you visit, take your kids sight-seeing to learn more about their heritage. You could also work on a family tree together. Websites like Ancestry.com help you to discover more about your family's genealogy with their huge database of ancestry records.