Culture influences the way we perceive the world, so exposing your child to a variety of social norms and practices will equip them with the social skills and intercultural competency they need to thrive in an increasingly globalized world.
According to research in early childhood development, children begin to absorb social ideas about people around them around age 3. Given that different cultures have different perspectives and norms, exposing your child to a wealth of cultures from a young age teaches them to respond positively to those who are different than themselves.
Discussing the different value systems and perspectives that come with different cultures will build your child’s sense of compassion, and teach them how to look at issues from multiple points of view.
If you are interested in exposing your child to different cultures, you do not have to wait for the time in your schedule or loosening of COVID restrictions to allow you to travel! Below are some easy ways to begin exposing your kid to different cultures right in your home city or town.
Cultural Activities to Expose Your Kid to Diversity
Attend a cultural event or celebration in your area
Many cities and towns around the world are home to thriving immigrant communities. Look into which communities are near you, and see if they have cultural festivals which are open to the public. This can be a great way to have your child see celebrations from another culture, try new foods, and also to support the local economy where you live. When attending events from another culture, make sure to be respectful, and explain culturally appropriate behaviors to your child so they can learn as well!
Listen to International Music
Another great cultural activity is to listen to music from other cultures. Search online for the top 50 songs from a given country, and have your child take a listen to find new favorites. It may also be fun for your child to look up the translations of their favorite songs into English, and you can discuss with them elements of the song which may be unique or special to the culture of the song. Make sure to vet the songs and their translations before passing them along to your child to make sure the subject matter is appropriate for them!
Eat at a Local Ethnic Restaurant
Pick a special occasion to take your child to a restaurant serving food from another culture. To increase the educational value of this experience, have your child look at the menu online before going, and research the background and cultural significance of the different dishes they will try. You can also have them research basic phrases like Please, Thank You, Hello, and Goodbye in the language of that culture, and they can practice with the restaurant staff.
Read a Children’s Book from Another Culture
If you are looking for a way to provide your children with cultural awareness within the comfort of your own home, children’s books are great options. Ask your child which cultures they are curious about, and order or borrow an age-appropriate book written by an author from that culture. For inspiration, check out this list of popular children’s books from all around the world which are available in English!
Cook a recipe from another culture
Another cultural activity which can be done from home is to cook a recipe from a culture your child is excited about. Make the experience feel even more authentic by finding a video of a chef from that culture online, and preparing the dish along with them. If you don’t know where to start, this YouTube channel is full of free videos of master chefs from all over the world cooking their favorite dishes!
If your child is interested in crafts, have them create a homemade passport where they can keep track of the different cultures they learn about. Use a template from online, or have them design their own format which is suited to the information they’d like to keep in the passport. Your child can decorate each page with drawings and facts that they find about different cultures, such as popular foods, celebrations, or important words in different languages.
If you are looking for more ways for your kid to build social skills through cultural activities, Ivy Camps USA offers a Crafts, Culture, and Cooking class during the summer time where your child can meet with other kids their age from around the world and learn about new cultures in class through making crafts and outside of class through trying out new recipes! Learn more on our website, or schedule a free consultation to discuss which programs are the best fit for your child.