5 Ways to Offer Your Children a Global Perspective

It can be tempting to simply ignore the world outside your front door when the kids are young, but with technology the way it is it can be just as hard to not see or hear world news. Instead of shielding your child, consider it a privilege to introduce your children to the nations. When they are little, they do not need the unfiltered nightly news version, or to stay up-to-the minute informed via the internet, but they can be given a base on which to build a global perspective.

Giving children a global perspective has lifelong benefits. Learning about the very real struggles of others keep problems in perspective, and fosters a compassionate heart towards those around the world. Through connecting your children with different cultures, they can see that people have similar dreams and are not all that different from themselves.

Map it
Hang a large world map in a place kids can see and touch. When important news happens, point to the location on the map. When the tsunami hit Japan, my kids put markers on the damaged areas while they followed the news. Seeing the big picture can help natural worriers like my youngest. She was terribly concerned our nearby little river was going to “swallow” us too. While I can’t say tragedy will never hit our home, I could show her the distance between that disaster and us.

Experience different cultures through their unique cuisine. You can visit ethnic restaurants, grocery stores or learn how to make a dish yourself. My son has been enamored with Asian food ever since I took him to a sushi restaurant. He has since taught himself how to make delicious egg rolls, fried rice and collects a variety of chopsticks. The side benefit to his newfound culinary passion, is how closely he follows what happens in Asia.

Talk like the locals
Do not leave learning a language up to the schools. There are programs available that are painless to use. I recently bought the French program through Rosetta Stone and the kids and I are working through the CD’s together. The library often has kids movies on DVD available in different languages. I plan on picking up a French version of a favorite movie to see how much we understand.

Be aware
Give your children the opportunity to know the truth about what is going on in the world. It is one thing to celebrate a country or a culture in general, another thing entirely to learn the current state of affairs. My daughter has big plans to travel the world someday and I especially want her to be aware. While I do not want to scare her, she needs to know how to follow breaking news.

If at all possible, travel. Seeing the world first hand is invaluable. If you cannot do this then watch documentaries together. There are several kid-friendly versions such as The Little Travelers. This show follows two little girls as they discover new countries. When choosing movies and books from the library, make it a point to pick up a material that highlights different countries from time to time.

Our children will have the ability to help change the world in a few short years. Giving them both knowledge and a passion for the world we live in is the least we can do!

More by Sylvie Branch:

9 Ways to Encourage Creativity
Fat phobia has warped parents’ common sense
Tips for changing a Negative Nelly’s perspective

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