Children who have the opportunity to travel at an early age are exposed to different cultures and can gain a stronger sense of cultural awareness and intercultural competence. However, traveling is expensive, and not every family has the option even to book a trip. In this article, Paulette Chaffee, educator and children’s advocate, provides another avenue for parents to teach their children about different cultures without buying a plane ticket.
Reading is always a necessary skill to practice with kids, so why not read about other cultures from around the world? There are numerous books to choose from highlighting different cultures and their traditions for all levels of readers. The earlier a child is exposed to other cultures, the smoother such an introduction will be because of the new vocabulary and information books can provide. An excellent book to start with for young learners would be Little Chickies-Los Pollitos by Susie Jaramillo.
Learn a New Language
A great parent-child activity that boosts cultural awareness is learning a new language together. Like books, learning a new language opens a whole new world of vocabulary words to learn. A new language also provides learning opportunities to benefit cognitive development and elevate communication, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Josette Hendrix, founder and director of the Northwest Language & Cultural Center, says students learn how to think differently when learning a new language.
Watch Virtual Tours
Travelers are giving everyone a chance to see what the world looks like through online virtual tours of different areas worldwide. Free online platforms like AirPano provide a front-row seat for viewers to see wonders across the globe. AirPano is a VR project that uses 360-degree videos and high-resolution aerial 360-degree photographs. Virtual tours also involve an interactive setup that includes clicking different walking paths to explore and finding facts along the way about the sight and the culture.
Parents can spark cultural curiosity in kids by asking questions about different cultures and encouraging children to ask questions and seek answers through research. Start by researching with your child and encourage them to conduct their own research when curiosity hits. It is also beneficial for parents to talk with their kids and ask them what tools, such as a trip to the library or lending a laptop, they need to help assist with research.
Visit Local Museums
A trip to the local museum is always more budget-friendly than an international trip. Spending the day adventuring through a museum is a fantastic way to expose children to cultures in a more social way. Kids can learn about culture through art or a culturally specific museum, depending on what kinds of museums are in the area.
Discovering different cultures through trying various foods and dishes from around the world helps families plan fun dinners and gets everyone involved with gaining cultural insight. Parents can set aside one night a month to have a family dinner revolving around a new culture. After dinner is the perfect time for a movie night to watch a documentary that shares more information about the culture everyone is learning about and celebrating that night.
Listen to World Music
Turing on world music in the car or at home is another way to introduce a child to different cultures. There is world music suited for any age. Listening to music from other countries can also spark interest in learning more about how a culture can influence music and the roots of music from a culture.
Paulette Chaffee is a teacher, speech therapist, and attorney deeply involved in the Fullerton community. As an educator and member of various non-profit boards, her focus has always been on providing children with the highest quality education. Ms. Chaffee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential, and is admitted to the California Bar.