Tips for Raising a Global Child

3-DSC_6024One of the great benefits of travelling with children is the knowledge that you are raising a global child to live on a planet that is becoming smaller each day. Providing children with global awareness prepares them for the future. They’ll be more able to tackle the environmental, economic, political and public-health challenges they will inherit.

To give kids the benefits of a global perspective, it’s essential to start promoting an interest in other cultures when they are young. Travel is great for initiating this process, but it’s not mandatory. There are a multitude of ways to raise globally aware citizens without even packing a suitcase!

Books: Take an Imaginary Trip

1-IMG_9562One of the easiest ways to introduce children to different cultures, countries and continents is through books. Head to your local library to find books that are set in far off places. Create a quick and easy calendar map of the world with places your child wants to learn about (i.e. Jan-Russia, Feb-Africa, March-India, etc). Look at a map and create the monthly (or weekly) list together. Check out this great list of books based on the different continents to get your started. Librarians are also awesome resources to help you find books from around the world.

Food: Eat Around the World

1-DSC00384No matter where you live, you probably have access to different types of food. Mexican, Chinese, Italian and Thai restaurants are common even in small towns. Having a meal at a local restaurant can be the avenue to discuss and explore the country and culture where the food originates. Eating foods different than what your family is used to encourages flexibility, adaptability and openness to things that are different. They don’t have to like the food, but just learning about what types of foods different cultures eat and why their food might be different is a great eye opener for children (and adults alike!). Not enough options in your town, make your own food with this Multicultural Cookbook for Kids.

Music: Get Global

3-DSC01184Living in a large metropolis we are spoiled with access to global music, often catered specifically to children (i.e. Hollywood Bowl’s Summer Sound Series). However, not every city have these options available. Check local listings for music festivals happening in your area, specifically during the spring and summer seasons. You might be surprised what you find when you go looking for world music. If not, make a global playlist or sprinkle world tunes throughout your playlist for listening in the car or for an impromptu dance party at home. Check out Spotify or Pandora for ready-made playlists from around the world. There are also an abundance of children’s CDs focusing specifically on kid friendly songs from around the world.  The World Playground series is fantastic.

Cultural Events: Let’s Party!

11-IMG_9958Attending and participating in cultural events and festivals in your town is one of the best ways to immerse yourself and your child in another culture. Keep an eye out for festivals such as Cinco de Mayo or Dia de los Muertos from Mexico, Songkran from Thailand and Holi from India. These are all festivals that children would have fun participating in, while also learning. Don’t be discouraged if your city doens’t have these options available. You can easily host your own festivals at home. Check out our guide on creating your own holi party at home.

Art: Get Crafty

01-DSC03898A great way to explore art from around the world with kids is through crafts. Check out this awesome multicultural arts book with great crafts from Central America to Africa to Japan.

Depending on the age of your children, another option is to explore art exhibits from around the world at your local museums. We recently attended an exhibit showcasing folk art representing culture and religion from all over Latin America. At the time it was a bit boring for our son, but since our visit he notices and comments on the art in our local Mexican restaurant with more interest in where it has come from.  Don’t be afraid to explore museums that might be boring for the kids. Try to connect what you see with other parts of their regular life.

Community: Explore Your City

1-IMG_4028Kids are especially curious about the world around them. They have no fear of asking questions and being open. Harness that curiosity to explore your city in more depth. Even if you aren’t aware of it, there are pockets of your own town where different cultures live. Get out and explore. Find out who lives where. Stop into the locals shops selling Indian goods, Armenian food or Mexican goods.  This can help teach your child the value of community and friendship while also getting a feel for how other cultures live even outside their country of origin.

Maps: Decorate with the World

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Via Flickr

There is nothing better than displaying maps around your house to encourage discussions about the world. This kid specific map explores animals throughout the world. Not many people have a globe these days, but if you see one at a thrift store, consider picking it up. Kids love to roll it around, exploring the continents and countries within them through their fingertips. If neither of these are options, print maps from online to explore in more detail.

Language: Dip into Classes

06-IMG_9421Make learning a second (or third) language a priority in your household. Check out baby language classes focusing on music to more educational languages classes as the children grow. Young children have a knack for languages from a young age, but as the years pass, they lose the ability to hear the different tones and inflections of voice. Enroll your child early in a language class that makes sense for your family. There are also educational apps and multi-lingual TV shows for kids to help increase their desire for learning another language. Our son loves Go Diego Go and Handy Manny.

Family Heritage: Explore Your Roots

07-IMG_2588Even as an American mutt, our roots go back somewhere! Explore your roots with your children. Children love to have a sense of where their ancestors come from. Discuss your heritage, how your family made the transition to your current country and the history of your family’s country of origin.  Use these discussions to explore the music, food, art and language of the region.

Subscriptions: Passport to the World

Check out subscription services such as Little Passports to explore areas of the world to inspire and educate your child. If this is not available in your area, make your own pretend passport to use as a catalyst to explore the world.

Other monthly subscription services and websites like Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids and Time for Kids are great resources to spur conversation and learnings about the world in kid friendly terms.

The world is not homogenous, even if our towns might be. Multi-cultural families are becoming the norm. Lets help our children have a better life, by showing them the importance of recognizing, respecting and learning about cultures and countries different from our own.

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22 Responses to “Tips for Raising a Global Child”

  1. alison @greenwithrenvy Says:

    I love the way you have broken this down into manageable steps that any family can take to introduce their children to the world of travel. It’s so important as we become more and more global. Nice job!

    Reply

  2. Raquel Says:

    Love this post! Yes I agree – so many great lessons can be taught while kids are traveling and the Little Passport kits are so cool! Love your photos too!

    Reply

  3. Anda Says:

    I admire you for traveling with a small child. It’s not always easy, but it’s a great experience for the young ones. They grow up to be travel lovers also and traveling broadens their life experience.

    Reply

    • kkowen Says:

      He already wakes up randomly asking “when are we going to go somewhere new” My husband just rolls his eyes that now he has to contend with two of us!

      Reply

    • kkowen Says:

      He will wake up randomly asking “When are we going somewhere new?” My husband rolls his eyes, realizing he now has to contend with two of us!

      Reply

  4. Tim Says:

    I can’t even imagine how great this kind of experience is for a kid. I know how it, and always has been, for me and that’s pretty much blown my mind at times. Like you say, kids are curious and with the whole world to explore that has got to be exciting.

    Reply

    • kkowen Says:

      For us this is just normal life, but for many it is a struggle to make it a priority. But it’s worth it in the end!

      Reply

  5. Brianna Says:

    I had gifted my niece a Little Passports subscription, she loved it!
    Brianna recently posted…The Loews Madison Hotel- My Correct Address in Washington DCMy Profile

    Reply

  6. Revati Says:

    I dont have any of my own, but I know a few friends who do, and they have been trying to do this just the same way. Great ideas!
    Revati recently posted…Comment on How to Avoid Museum Fatigue in Europe by SophieMy Profile

    Reply

  7. melody pittman Says:

    What fun things! I did several of these things with my girls when they were young but I only wish I would have thought out of the box on some of those ideas. You are setting the bar very high for parents and I commend you for that. Focusing on something better for your child other than trying to be the head cheerleader or most popular football player is a nice change of pace from the culture here in the states.

    Reply

    • kkowen Says:

      Thanks for the message Melody. Now that you say it, this probably is tough for people. It’s such second nature to our family because of our love of other cultures.

      Reply

  8. Samantha Says:

    I have had various discussions with friends over this topic. My partner and I don’t yet have children but we are avid and frequent travellers and currently (and will continue) an expat life. Many of my friends have told me it would be unfair and irresponsible to raise a child that doesn’t have a structured life or a place they can permanently call home, causing too much upset when they leave their friends behind and disrupting their learning.

    But the more I read online the more I see how families such as yourself are making a beautiful life for your child full of completely unique experiences that I am sure will only aid his learning and growth as a human. I am sure a child that travels will be amazing at languages, people skills and understanding cultural differences and to me that far outweighs anything else.

    Secondly your lovely child looks always happy! So I salute you! :-) You are doing such an amazing thing for him :)
    Samantha recently posted…How 777 Steps & Monkey Poop Gave Me EnlightenmentMy Profile

    Reply

    • kkowen Says:

      Thanks for the lovely message Samantha! The one thing people told me when I was pregnant was ‘now your travel days are over’ Nope! Since we lived in India we were forced to get on 24 hr flights just to visit family so travel was a requirement. Once you do it once you realize it’s fine and you will survive. Now it’s an absolute joy. My son was sad when we left India but he loves having his friends there and now here. We still have quite a few expat friends and their kids are awesome! You will have no problems doing it!

      Reply

  9. chrysoula Says:

    Even though I don’t have children yet. I totally agree with your points. That is the way I would love to raise my child!
    chrysoula recently posted…Monemvasia, a Greek Castle TownMy Profile

    Reply

  10. Alli Says:

    I really like points 1 and 2 . . . so important! I don’t have kids now but when I do I will be doing point number 2 as best I can! I really want my child to be open minded in foods and other cultures!:)

    Reply

  11. Olga Says:

    What a wonderful post!
    I think educating your little one about the world out there, in order to foster an urge to explore and travel, is so important! Not all parents do that, unfortunately.
    Olga recently posted…16 Beautiful Mountain Towns in EuropeMy Profile

    Reply

  12. Sarah Says:

    Love this… even though I don’t have kids (yet) you’re tips are fabulous!

    Reply

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