Most parents want their children to learn about different cultures and experience them first-hand. Travel is a great way to do this, but as Fahim Imam-Sadeque explains, this is not always an option for every family.
Sometimes, there are financial limitations to travel. Sometimes, there are logistical limits. Other times, there may even be health reasons, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Even if travel isn’t realistic, there are still ways parents can introduce children to other cultures. Here are seven ways to do so while staying home.
1. Try Different Foods
Food is an integral part of any culture. Many people believe it’s the most exciting part of travelling to a new place. You can learn a lot about a different culture by eating their authentic foods.
Luckily, this is something you can do in your own home. First, research traditional recipes of different cultures, and have your children help you prepare them. Then, accompany the dinner with discussions of the history of that particular food or recipe to connect the food with a broader look at the culture.
2. Celebrate Other Holidays
A great way to experience a different culture is to learn about and celebrate their holidays. Children love holidays, making them the perfect vehicle to teach them how other people celebrate.
Start with holidays that are similar to ones they already celebrate. This could mean celebrating Hanukkah or Chinese New Year, for instance.
Then, branch out to holidays unique to other cultures, such as Holi and Diwali.
3. Listen to Music
A considerable part of culture is music. It’s a form of expression, a form of celebration and a form of remembrance all wrapped into one. Moreover, people associate music with different aspects of their own lives, providing an excellent opportunity to teach about other cultures.
Today, it’s easy to sample music from other cultures online. You can even research the lyrics to the songs, the people who wrote them and what it means.
4. Study the Geography
Visual aids are always great to help children put what they are learning in perspective. The region’s geography is essential when the subject is a different culture.
Try hanging a world map on the wall of one of your rooms or get a big enough globe that the whole family can see at once. Then, point out where the country you’re discussing is located and what else is surrounding it.
Understanding geography will help your children better grasp why certain cultures are the way they are and do what they do.
5. Get a Pen Pal
When most parents were in school, they had organised pen pals through their classes. This is something parents can help their children do from home.
Some websites help people connect with pen pals throughout the world, such as International Pen Friends. Having your family write letters back and forth with someone from a different culture will help them gain real-world knowledge of how someone else lives.
6. Read Stories
Children’s literature is often a wonderful representation of a person’s culture. What a culture teaches its children and how they do it tells a lot about its culture.
Children love stories. It’s easy for them to follow with the colourful illustrations and writing catered to their age level. Fahim Imam-Sadeque says reading to your children will always help them learn, especially when learning about a different culture.
7. Learn a New Language
A culture’s language is central to how they live. A great way to immerse your family in a different culture is to teach them common words of their language.
Even teaching them basic words and phrases such as “hello,” “how are you,” “what is your name”, and more will help them experience a culture first-hand. They would be exposed to this if they travelled, so why not bring it to the home environment, too?
About Fahim Imam-Sadeque
Fahim Imam-Sadeque is a business development professional with proven experience in the asset management industry. He has a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science from the City University of London and is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries. Fahim’s top skills include asset management, hedge funds, investment management, sales, and consultant & client relationship management.