Every parent has been there: you're picking out apples at the grocery store and your son says (just loudly enough for everyone around you to hear), "Mommy, why is that lady wearing a thing on her head?". Or after ballet class, your daughter asks, "Why is Lila's skin different than mine?".
As adults, we're conditioned to quiet these questions and move on - somehow it feels like we shouldn't be asking these questions. But kids? They are simply curious.
As stories of racism and xenophobia fill our news outlets, I encourage you instead to lean into your child's questions. Follow your child's curiosity and spend time learning about different cultures, races, and religions. Raising our children to not only understand, but also appreciate the beautiful differences in people's cultural backgrounds lays the foundation for connection, collaboration, and compassion throughout the child's life.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to learn with your kids about cultural diversity:
Books are the perfect way to infuse your home and child's mind with new cultures and ideas. Books like Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time, by Jamie Martin, make it incredibly easy to find age-appropriate books about any country and culture.
Books are unique in that you can truly enter into the character's thoughts and perspectives, allowing your child to experience things through the eyes of others. Whether you read and discuss the books together or just supply a wide variety of culturally-inclusive books in your home, you'll be making a statement to your kids that other cultures are important and belong on your bookshelf.
TIP: My kids LOVE learning about how children in other countries celebrate the holidays. The book Walk This World at Christmastime has quickly become a favorite in our home during the days leading up to Christmas. Read a page or two a night and consider borrowing some of the traditions!
I'll bet you don't have to go far from home to explore other cultures! First, look around you. You may have friends who would love to share their traditional ways with you. We once had some great Jewish friends who graciously invited our kids over for a Hanukkah celebration in which they explained to us the customs, let us try some new foods, and even taught us how to play Dreidel! It was so much fun, and each year my kids think back with fondness, knowing what fun our friends are having when Hanukkah arrives.
Other fun ideas include:
Searching out local cultural festivals. A quick Google search of My City + Cultural Festivals resulted in 4 events this month alone within driving distance - AfroBeats Festival, Pocahontas Festival, IndiaFest, and AfriCON.
Go to eat at a variety of culturally-rich restaurants and taste foods from all over the world.
Visit local museums that often have artifacts and history of different countries. TIP: don't overwhelm your child by trying to 'do it all'. Pick one section of the museum to focus on in a single day!
Travel with your Kids
Reading and learning about other cultures is so important, and will prepare your children for when the opportunity comes to experience other cultures immersively through travel. There's absolutely nothing that can replace real-life experiences! Don't be scared to take the kids, or be fooled that by waiting until they're the "perfect" age (spoiler: there's no such thing)!
Just get out there and show your kids the world - whether that's camping in the next state over, walking the World Showcase at Disney, or cruising the rivers of Europe. Childhood is formative - use the 18 years you have with your child to expand their worldview and fill their heart with compassion and joy for the differences that make us all unique!
Adventures by Disney is the perfect travel transition for kids who are learning about new cultures and countries. With ABD, you won't find stuffy, drawn-out lectures - Adventure Guides especially trained in working with children lead them in crafts, cooking demonstrations, and tours that make history and culture come alive! Adventures by Disney has teamed up with me for an amazing exclusive offer for my clients only: $150 off any 2020 Adventures by Disney vacation, combinable with all other offers!
Reach out to explore the itineraries - with over 25 countries, there's sure to be something that will fit your family's needs perfectly!
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