With globalization, international travel, and the internet it seems like the world is getting smaller. Businesses are seeking out people who feel comfortable working with those of different cultures and backgrounds, and people willing to travel and live in other countries. Besides the world is just becoming a more complex place, and it is more important than ever for us to get to know our neighbors and understand where they are coming from. So, how can we prepare our children for entering into this global society?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Don’t be afraid to travel with your children. Take them places, expose them to different cultures, different foods, different languages, different climates, different terrains. We have travelled extensively with our children – our oldest has been through museums in London, on safari in South Africa, in the Vatican and Coliseum in Rome, through the Uffizi museum in Florence, snorkeling with dolphins, fish, and turtles in Hawaii, and through Roman and Crusader ruins in Israel, and he is just shy of his sixth birthday (okay, I know we have been very lucky to do all of this, but even one trip can make a lasting impression).
- Seek out ways to learn more about the different cultures represented in your area. Look for cultural center events, go to authentic restaurants to experience different types of food (and maybe meet the owners), put in effort to meet and get to know your neighbors who are from different backgrounds.
- Make studying world geography an important part of your homeschool curriculum. You can really immerse yourself in this type of study – read about it, look at picture books, make cultural costumes, watch a documentary on the region, prepare and eat local styled food, learn a few words of the language, read folk stories from the area, study their art, listen to their music, plan an international cultural day with your local homeschool co-op or group.
- Use resources on the internet, such as National Geographic’s My Wonderful World, and for older children expose them to international news on websites such as BBC and CNN international (not CNN on TV, I was surprised to realize, upon moving back to the US, that the CNN aired here is not the same as the CNN that the rest of the world sees).
For more ideas look through the book “Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World”. It is filled with ideas on how to learn about and become comfortable with people and cultures from around the world.
Kami can be found raising her two little world travelers at Nurturing the tender years.