Most parents have certain aspirations for their kids: confident, adaptable, inquisitive, knowledgeable about the world. Even if a family globetrotting trip isn’t on the table for you, there are ways you can start the journey to a global outlook from home. The suggestions below will get your child on track to cultural curiosity and lifelong learning whatever their age.
Develop their language skills
Even if you don’t have the advantage of a bilingual home, you can support language learning in the childhood years–the prime time for language absorption. Taking language lessons yourself will allow you to pass on your skills and help with homework. You can also facilitate conversations between your child and native speakers online through websites like The Mixxer, where students from around the world connect for speaking practice.
And don’t underestimate the impact of media around the home; playing foreign radio or TV in the background and stocking up on books and magazines in another language will contribute to your child’s conscious and subconscious language learning.
Encourage diverse friendships
Children are often better than adults at including people of different races and lifestyles in their friendship circles. But if your child doesn’t have much chance to mingle naturally with children from a range of backgrounds, help them access opportunities and environments that will broaden their friendship horizons.
Look around for sports, hobbies, clubs, and social spaces where your child can encounter diverse nationalities and perspectives. Consider hosting international students, too, through an exchange program or by registering as a homestay with a local university.
Introduce international cuisine
A regular diet of burger and fries probably won’t prime your child’s palette for tangy tapenades and spicy sushi. Feed their passion for global cuisine with multi-cultural home-cooked fare, take-out from different regions of the world, and trips to restaurants offering international dishes. Most importantly, help them experiment themselves with recipes from around the world, using different cooking methods, equipment, and ingredients to create their own foreign feasts.
Beyond the food itself, teach them the significance of food and its relationship with family in other cultures. Where people are seated, how the food is served, and other traditions have great significance in many cultures.
Incorporate movies and TV from around the world
Productive use of screen time can contribute to your child’s developing cultural awareness. Through online streaming and subscription services, it’s easier than ever to access age-appropriate material from across the globe. Trade the Disney staples for some world film and tap into international English-language or subtitled TV shows–even better, watch in another language if your child is multi-lingual or learning a language at school.
Expose them to world music
Your child may have a natural inclination towards the latest tunes topping the charts but encourage them to branch out in their musical tastes. Live music is an excellent way to inspire your child in creating and consuming different music genres. Take advantage of visiting artists, world orchestras and locally based musicians performing international music in your area. Familiarizing your child with the universal language of music will set them in good stead for building relationships in any corner of the globe.
Exploring other cultures from home can be as rewarding for you as it is for your child. Seeing your enthusiasm will spark your child’s own interest, so set off together on the road to international adventure and watch your child develop into a lifelong learner and leader.