Teaching kids to be curious and investigative of the world’s many cultures, and indeed to become so-called citizens of the world, is a monumental task for parents that wish to raise interesting, thoughtful and conscientious young ones. There are a few steps that parents can follow in order to teach their kids the value of diversity and the study of various ways of living.
Expose Children to Different Ideas Early
Sometimes, early exposure to foreign ideas can be simple: while cooking Italian, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern dishes for dinner, you could explain the origins of those dishes and the value that various cultures attach to different types of food. Early exposure also means being honest with children about difficult truths, such as the fact that there are children in other countries living in poverty whose parents might only make $1 in wages a day. Explaining the existence of inequality of opportunity is one of the best things a parent can do to pique their child’s interest in the world outside their doorstep.
Sign Them up for Language Classes
People who are fluent in more than one language are more likely to be more engaged with other cultures and expressions of thought. Learning one new language may also beget easier absorption of others: multilingual children have an easier time picking up third and fourth languages. The more languages the child speaks, the greater his or her interest will be in traveling to places where people speak those languages.
Travel with Them as Children
Obviously extensive travel is not in every family budget, but the concept of international travel is extremely elastic. Even taking children to Montreal or Mexico City could stoke a curiosity and interest in foreign cultures, and why people living so close to one another think so differently about cuisine, art, music, politics and the world in general. Exploring cultural relativity with kids is an excellent way to get them thinking differently.
Read Foreign News
This is obviously easier for children who speak more than one language, but for others, reading English news from the United Kingdom or Ireland can be just as instructive. The news looks different in every country in the world, and exposing children to various regional strains of opinion and national milieus can help evoke a sympathy in them for opinions and customs of other cultures. Children who eventually go into university-level international affairs master’s programs or other multi-cultural degrees will benefit tremendously from having read news sources from across the globe as kids.
There is no foolproof way to ensure that your children become world citizens. However, if you teach them respect for other cultures, openness to new ideas, and curiosity about other ways of life from a young age, world citizenry should be well within reach.
The post was written by Anica Oaks, a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.