Raising Culturally Aware Kids

By: Mark Gerry

The world is a large place. It’s an even larger place for a kid. One of the top ways to teach your kid about a new country is to visit it, and although travelling overseas is a great family experience, it can also be expensive and time consuming. There are many easy and affordable ways to teach your kids about different countries without actually travelling internationally. Below are our top three ways to help your kids learn about the world without leaving your home.

1) Cook international cuisines.
“I was a very picky eater when I was young. I knew that when I myself had kids I would want them to be open to trying new foods and experiences from around the world. So we started to prepare dinners as a family experience. If we are making Mexican food, my kids will help make the salsa. If I prepare curry, they’ll help me prepare pita chips. Of course, some nights aren’t a hit and I will end up preparing macaroni and cheese for them. But, it’s definitely worth trying, especially when dinner goes as planned some nights — like when my four-year-old daughter rolled and devoured her own avocado and cream cheese sushi roll!”

2) Talk about the world.
“When I was young, we didn’t have money to travel the world so we had to imagine our trips using an old globe in our home. My father would spin it and whichever country our fingers would stop on was the one we’d take our “vacation.” We’d then imagine what it was like to live in these places - what would we pack for our Mediterranean trip? Is it cold in Moscow in the winter? What’s the food like in Egypt? Even today, I can’t help but spin a globe every time I walk by one to see where I should “vacation” that day.”

3) Integrate new languages into daily life
“I wanted my two boys to learn French but I didn’t know what the best way to begin would be. So, we started with what would be simple to pick up: food. We labeled all of the food items in the house with their French translation. After several weeks of calling apples ‘les pommes’ and milk ‘lait’ I was getting ready to give up, until my 3 year-old all of a sudden asked for fromage with his crackers. These small steps really do make a difference.”

How do you help your kids to be internationally inspired? Share your tips with us.

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