How culturally aware are your kids?

October 30, 2009

My son’s topic for speech class this week, was to describe  some need in the world today. He chose to speak on the need for Americans to be more culturally aware. As the world becomes more and more a ‘global village’, the need for us all to know more about our ‘neighbors’ in other countries increases. So, how do we teach this to our kids?

If you can possible travel abroad, do. Save every cent, stop eating out at restaurants, and you will find it is do-able. We have taken our kids all over the world, and there is no better way to teach cultural awareness. But if you really can’t travel abroad, look for ways to experience other cultures right where you live. Our city has annual Greek and Spanish festivals. There are Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Indian restaurants within 10 minutes of our home.

Read books with your kids that are set in other countries. Books are a wonderful way for children to see the world through a different viewpoint. We use Sonlight Curriculum and we loved books like The Wheel on the School set in the Netherlands and The House of the SIxty Fathers set in China. A search on your local library webite should help you find suitable books. Magazines like National Geographic (there is one for kids too) will also open children’s eyes to the world.

My kids have also learned much of their geography and knowledge of foreign cultures by playing computer games, watching travel documentaries and playing geography board games. Fun ways to Teach Geography contains our favorite geography games and movies as well as more ideas on how to teach kids about the world around them.

And of course, America itself has a huge range of indigenous cultures for us to learn about too. Don’t overlook  those as we also need to understand the people we are living among as much as we need to understand those who live across the oceans from us.