I recently read an article about multimillionaire American investor and author Jim Rogers and how he and his wife decided to move to Singapore so that their children can be immersed in the culture and the language of a continent he considers to be the future. If you are reading this you probably have at least pondered the idea that there might be some value to raising global children, but do you have to move to another country or enroll your child in a private school where they can learn Mandarin to ensure a “global education”?
Of course not! Whether your child is in school, or preschool, or being home schooled there are many easy ways to ensure your child gets a global education at home.
Start with what you’ve got
Weather you have a bilingual family or not we all come from different places. Take advantage of your family’s cultural diversity and roots to introduce your child to other cultures, beliefs and ways of thinking.
In our family both my husband and I come from Guatemala and we both speak Spanish to our children at home. My children where both born in Guatemala even thought they don’t remember much about it (Ariane was 2 and Sebastian 3 months old when we moved to USA) so we take every opportunity to talk about Guatemala and celebrate Guatemalan holidays and traditions at home. My daughter just loves the fact she was born in another country and I take advantage of that and talk to her about how we are all different and about other countries.
Don’t be afraid to extend outside your immediate circle and ask that neighbor across the street to talk to your children about his Indian background during their playdate or your second cousin’s wife to share with them about that delicious Moroccan curry dish she always brings to family potlucks.
Take every opportunity to teach your child about other cultures
Throughout the day you will find countless opportunities to expose your child to other cultures weather it is during dinner while you eat take out pizza, as you watch the Car’s 2 movie or while reading a book about a parrot that lives in the brazilian jungle. Look closely and you will see that you have many things around the house that come from other cultures and each one of them gives you and opportunity to expose your child to that culture by talking about it and taping into your childs natural curiosity.
Use your children’s interests as a starting point
Ariane loves restaurants so we take her to restaurants that serve different kids of foods and now her favorite foods include refried beans (typical from Guateamala and many other Latin American countries), meatballs, sushi, Thai food and pizza. Sebastian loves parties and specially cupcakes so in our house every tradition or celebration includes cupcakes. We make them fun for the children so that they eager to participate in every aspect from decorations to cooking. In this way they are involved and feel part of it.
When I buy a book or take one out at the library I make it a point to look for books that are culturally diverse, folktales and bilingual books are my favorites. Even if you don’t know a second language you can get audio books or digital books in two languages and have your children listen to both languages just so they can be exposed to them.
Get a globe or a world map and pin it to a wall in your child’s room. That will give them the opportunity to explore it whenever they want this will awaken their curiosity and you will see they will start coming up to you with questions about different countries in no time.
Educating a global children does not require you to know a second language or move to Singapore, all you have to do is teach them by exaple. If you are a global citizen, if you value, apreciate and embrace different cultures your children will too. Make a commitment to take advantage of what you have around you and of every opportunity that presents itself to teach your children about different cultures, countries, traditions, beliefs and abilities and about how all of us are so similar despite our differences.