Building Global Awareness in Children: It Starts with Us!
There are more than 7.5 billion people in the world—and no two are the same. Each has his or her own culture, heritage, habits, likes and dislikes. As parents and adults, we know about these differences—and the importance of embracing these differences. The question is … do our children?
It may seem silly to admit, but building global awareness with our children begins with us. They don’t know what they don’t know—and it’s our jobs to impart the wisdom we’ve learned over the years to them. The first step is simple: respect other cultures and have a desire to learn.
Befriending People Different Than Us
In many instances, most of our close friends are members of the same groups as us—social, ethnic, racial, economic, religious—but this doesn’t have to be the same way for our children. Celebrate differences and talk to your children about how different is a good thing. Studies have found that children with diverse friends have higher levels of social competence and resiliency and increased self-esteem. They also tend to be better at “perspective taking” and more likely to think race-based discrimination is wrong.
Fostering Global Awareness in Your Family
In our ever-growing connected world, social and academic success relies on this ability to understand, respect and work well with people from diverse cultures. The power of the Internet can only get us so far—building global awareness isn’t merely reading books or articles online (though those can help!). The guiding principle is to create a more peaceful and just society—and that starts with each of us.
Here’s how you can help build global awareness in your own children:
- Keep an open and positive attitude. Your children will see this willingness to accept others in you—and they, too, will do the same. Developing a tolerance of other cultures and explaining that different is a good thing as it allows us to better solve problems will help them overcome cross-cultural differences and flex their empathy muscle.
- Talk about social issues with your littles. Give them multiple opportunities to hear various viewpoints—it will expand their mind. Say goodbye to narrow ways of thinking!
- Get active in your community. Do things as a family with others who have a different ethnic or cultural background as your own. Befriend immigrants, people who are gay or lesbian and those who are disabled. If your children attend school with a diverse population, encourage them to spend time with students unlike themselves.
- Support businesses that are owned and operated by people who don’t look like you. Whether it’s a restaurant or a boutique shop, push your family outside your comfort zone. Try new foods and attend heritage festivals—the world is big … so explore it together!
- Learn another language. Not only will it provide awareness that others speak differently than you, but it will bring a greater understanding about the groups who speak that language. And, when it comes time to travel to that country, you’ll be set!
- Educate yourselves. Global awareness takes work. One doesn’t just automatically become familiar with a new culture if they don’t put in time and effort to learn something new. Subscription boxes, like Little Learning Hands, are a perfect way to bring the family together and learn about various cultures right at home. Currently, Little Learning Hands offers a great first step: the World Explorer Subscription provides the opportunity to tour some of the most fascinating countries of the world through a variety of activities. Your child will receive games, puzzles, crafts and experiments among others that are designed to reinforce learning.