Thanks to advanced communication, ubiquitous social media, and ease of travel, the world is more accessible than ever. With the right guidance, a culturally competent child can hold this world in the palm of his or her hand—and parents can begin this education at home. In fact, parents play a critical role in instilling cultural sensitivity as children model their behavior, both good and bad. When Mom and Dad are curious, respectful, and empathetic, children follow suit. Caryn Antonini, founder of Early Lingo language programs, offers these five tips to help your child become a citizen of the world.
Visit your local library to find books on different countries and cultures. Bring this research to life by going online to view photos, videos, music, art, landscapes, and more. Learning how kids live in other countries is not only interesting, it also offers a new perspective and helps everything become less “foreign.”
Make a commitment to start your child on the path to learning a foreign language. Try a group class with an instructor to make the learning cost effective and fun. Foreign language apps and other programs are also great tools. The key is to practice consistently and surround your child with the language as much as possible.
3. Manners & Etiquette
Manners differ greatly around the world, so it’s a good idea to get a handle on them as early as possible to learn what’s appropriate and what’s taboo before traveling abroad. While a thumbs-up might be okay in the United States, it has another meaning entirely in countries like Greece and Argentina.
Try new foods together and learn about their origins. Be authentic and use chopsticks, skewers, or hands as appropriate. Cooking classes can be an effective way of exploring an important aspect of a culture.
5. Make A Difference
When children are taught how to protect and preserve their environment, they can become stewards of change. There are many global issues that affect our world, from ocean pollution to the threats facing endangered species. Even changes on a micro level are a good start.