It’s Back to School Time!
Kids are excited and anxious to learn and meet new people. To get your child in the spirit of learning, you can use the start of a new year as the motivation to expose your family to different cultures. Children meet new friends and classmates every year from different cultural backgrounds. Learning and experiencing other cultures can help kids better interact with kids of different backgrounds.
Why is it important to expose children to different cultures? Exposing your family to a new culture can create a community of more culturally sensitive people. Based upon the U.S. Census survey in 2005, “an estimated 52 million people in the country spoke a language other than English at home.” This is a significant amount of people that have a culture different from the culture in the United States. In 2008, it was found that approximately 2.5 percent of children ages 1-14 years old are considered “Naturalized U.S. citizens” and 7.7 percent are Non- U.S. Citizens. (Visit www.Census.gov for Population by Sex, Age, Nativity, and U.S. Citizenship Status: 2008). Many of these children that are non-US citizens may be your child’s classmate or friend—therefore, it is important to teach different cultures so that he or she may gain a better understanding of the world around him or her.
Not only is it important for children to experience a new culture, it is important for the whole family to learn as well!!! Parents can expose themselves along with their children to other cultures too. Learning as a family can help to build closer relationships. There are several FUN things a family can do together to learn about different cultures; these include:
- Periodically, select a country that represents a culture you want to learn about; do research as a family on this country. Learn about the language, the foods, the currency used, the weather, etc.
- Use a recipe that represents the culture that you’re learning, (visit these websites for FUN recipes:http://library.thinkquest.org/J001272F/folklife/recipes/recipes.htm,http://www.the-cookie-jar.com/, and http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/World-Cuisine/Main.aspx )
- Visit a cultural grocery store.
- Visit a restaurant of a culture that you are learning.
- Listen to music from a country different from the United States
- Watch a family movie in a foreign language or a movie in English about a foreign country.
- Plan a vacation to international destinations; and
- Visit foreign embassies in Washington, DC
Overall, cultural learning can develop an awareness of other societies and traditions—such as history, language, and societal norms, and it can develop an appreciation of other cultures. It also provides a way for you and your children to develop social relationships with many different people.
Submitted by Cierra Woodard