Teaching children about different cultures is imperative for promoting a more inclusive and accepting society, but sometimes, it can be difficult to know what the best way to go about it is. On the one hand, you want to show them as much as you can and expose them to a wide range of different practices and customs, but on the other hand, you don’t want to encroach on customs and come off as insensitive or as a ‘culture vulture’.
With this in mind, teaching your children about different cultures can seem intimidating and hard, but it doesn’t have to be! To help you nurture your children to be more diverse and tolerating of those who are different to them, here are some tips you can take on board.
Don’t segregate different groups
The first tip we have is to avoid creating a ‘them’ and ‘us’ ideology. Of course, you need to make it clear that different cultures have different customs, but try and avoid making a rhetoric of segregation as this could be more harmful than good. Instead, ensure you highlight that although different people come from different parts of the world and have different beliefs, we are all equal regardless of our customs and cultures.
Explore new languages
The UK, US, and Australia are particularly guilty of expecting everyone else to speak their language. Not only can this breed ignorance when you travel, but it can also hide you from the beauty of diverse languages. To help your children learn more and connect with a wider range of people, make an effort to teach them snippets of different languages.
It’s also worth making a conscious effort to pay attention to languages that use different characters. It’s highly worth teaching your children how to say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’, and ‘thank you’ in as many languages as possible. You can make it more fun by getting them to learn to write/say their name in a different language.
Learn about different holidays and celebrations
There are lots of different traditions around the world, be them religious like Eid ul-Fitr or customary like the Chinese New Year. Teaching children to explore these different holidays and celebrations will allow them to better respect their friends who may be celebrating.
Teach them the basics of events like Diwali and how to respectfully send greetings. In addition, if they have any friends who will be observing these holidays, you may consider buying an appropriate card or gift for them as a sign of respect. This will go a long way to making their friends feel more valued and welcome.
Try new foods
Food is a big part of culture but is something that is rarely explored in early childhood. The earlier you expose your children to new foods, the earlier they can learn to appreciate different cooking methods, customs, and lifestyles. You can expand their tastebuds from an early age which will benefit them later on in life, but you can also teach them to use different utensils like chopsticks.
What’s more, this will ensure they can comfortably go round someone else’s house for dinner and enjoy a traditional family meal without any additional provisions being made for them.
Teaching children about culture is so important if we want to avoid future conflicts and segregation, but it’s important you do it in a fun and appropriate way. By taking heed of the tips on this list, you can make sure your child is a well-rounded individual with a deeper understanding, respect, and – most importantly – appreciation for other cultures.