The Disney song, It’s a Small World, highlights how we all are connected and was created to promote the message of international peace and inclusion of diversity. The world is meant to be explored and it is up to us as parents to give our kids a first-class ticket. When we pop the bubble that we live in and open our arms to the many different cultures that the world has to offer, our kids will follow suit.
Lucky for us, culture is all around us. In some places one may encounter a different culture simply by traveling to another nearby neighborhood. In preparation for our family vacation to Hawaii, our family began looking into Hawaiian culture. We learned about the different islands, languages, what the state is known for and more. When we arrived in the state we participated in activities, tours, and spoke to the locals to supplement what we had learned.
Below are six ways parents can introduce their children to other cultures. The recommendations below can serve as standalone activities or can be coupled as a monthlong theme focusing on a different culture each week.
Books: When introducing kids to different cultures, beginning the journey with books is a great start. Not only are books a great tool for kids to use their imagination, they also serve as our map for exploring different cultures. Pro-tip: Make sure to research the books beforehand to make certain that you are appreciating the culture in the appropriate way.
Toys: Check out your local toy store for educational toys honoring different cultures. Toys serve as great tools for imaginative entertainment and can serve as a wonderful treat to help your children learn about how kids all over the world learn and play.
Experiences: There are numerous holidays celebrated throughout the year honoring different cultures. These events are often posted on local community websites, newspapers, and local broadcast news channels. Those who live near a college campus should also take advantage of the campus’ diversity and inclusion events hosted by students and faculty.
Food: Depending on the age of the child, trying a new cuisine can be a challenging feat. Therefore, I recommend first trying items with similar textures to their favorite foods. By introducing your children to foods from different cultures, they may discover a new favorite food and have a more positive outlook on different foods as they grow older.
Movies: Head to the theater! Movies are a great way to introduce kids to another culture, as they provide a clear, visual representation. For younger children, consider watching an animated movie and discussing the differences and similarities seen throughout the film. Having these discussions is a great opportunity to highlight one’s own culture while learning about another.
Travel: As a parent, traveling with kids presents its own set of challenges, but the benefits far outweigh the consequences. Traveling to a different city, state, or country is a great way to explore how big the world is. In some instances, a different culture is waiting to be discovered by simply traveling to a nearby neighborhood. If you and your child accomplish the five activities above as part of a combined learning experience, concluding your learning with a trip is a great finale. To see the wonder in your child’s eyes as they see the world is a memory you’ll always cherish.
About the Writer
Tradara McLaurine is a published author, business owner and higher education professional who utilizes her experiences, skills, education and out of the box thinking to inspire others and create new opportunities. She enjoys writing children’s books and speaking about leadership. In 2017, she published Why Mommy Works and Why Daddy Works. Her third book, I Want a Nickname, released in 2022.