Culture encompasses the knowledge and attributes of a specific group of people. It defines the identity by language, religion, social norms, habits, cuisines, music and art which are specific to a particular group. It fosters the growth and development of a group by conduct and patterns that are unique to that group.
After globalisation, education about different cultures became necessary for the trade to take place. Now, we are aware of so many different cultures by the virtue of modernisation and globalisation. In a click of a button, we can know a lot about western and eastern cultures and learning helps us to understand the way of proper communication among the people belonging to different cultures and thereby forming a bond of trust that is indispensable not only to lubricate economical needs but also to maintain harmony between us. This will help us to recreate our perception towards the world.
It is of utmost importance to introduce different cultures to the little ones because the future lies in their hands. As we know that the greatest enemy of knowledge is ignorance and this leads to confusion and loss. Educating children about different cultures can help them to become more open-minded and accepting. Once they grow-up and start leading their independent lives, they will have to meet different people belonging to different cultures and thereby having a different set of ideologies and values. To be able to cooperate with those people, they must have a broad mindset. If they are made acquainted with other cultures then it will help in avoiding any kind of confusion or embarrassment in future.
Introducing something new to children can be a bit problematic as they lose interest very fast. So, here are some fun ways to introduce different cultures to your child:
1) Exploring different cultures through books
Introducing books to children at an early age is not only an effective way to enlighten them about different cultures but also helps them build a good vocabulary. To grasp their interest, books must contain colourful pictures and enticing stories about characters and ideas of different cultures. Parents can narrate the stories themselves to capture their kid’s attention and simultaneously learn about different cultures and traditions together. Here are some suggestions for toddlers – All Are Welcome by Suzanne Kaufman, Lovely by Jess Hong, Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena and The Name Jar by Yang sook Choi. These books are about children going through a variety of new experiences and meeting new people. While learning about different cultures parents can help their children to understand the views of the characters involved in the book and empathise with them.
2) Listening to different folk music and rhymes
Music and rhymes are an interesting way to introduce different cultures to children. Listening to music and reciting rhymes can help them build interest in learning about a new culture and their respective languages. It is a very fun way to learn something new.
3) Introducing different cuisines
From pita bread and hummus to all way to sushi, learning cultures through flavors is one of the easiest ways of introducing culture. If the food suits their palette then they will be more than excited to understand and learn about its culture as a whole and try other food items as well. Going to different authentic restaurants can give them exposure to different cultures as authentic restaurants decorate their interiors according to the culture being followed there.
4) Educating while travelling
Knowledge comes first-hand through practical experience. Parents can educate their children about different languages, cultures and traditions while travelling for work during vacations. Through travelling to different places, children can meet and interact with people belonging to different cultures. They’ll come across various views and opinions that can broaden their horizons.
5) Fostering curiosity through simple questions
It is very easy to incorporate curiosity in children’s mind. Just tiny questions are enough to stir their mind, for example, while walking on the street if a man with unique attire crosses by them, parents can ask their children if they know about the type of attire that individual was wearing and in a similar way, they can enlighten their kid about different cultures. This is one of the most natural ways of introducing cultures.
6) Watching movies and T.V. channels that depict different cultures
Movies are an exciting way to educate children about different cultures. They have the ability to grasp children’s attention. With movies, children can get an idea of different languages, living styles, new places and traditions. There are different lifestyle channels that parents can subscribe to and watch them together with their kids. Some suggestions include – TLC, Travel XP, discovery kids, Fox Life, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, NDTV Good Times, etc.
7) Globes and atlas
Gifting a globe to your kids and playing with them is one of the most creative ways to introduce different cultures. Learning through playing can enhance their learning ability and children will show more interest than any other ways. The game can be made more interesting if played by the whole family together. In this way, everyone will learn something new. Acquiring knowledge together with close ones is the best method of learning for a child.
By learning about culture, children will not only become more perceptive towards the cultural sensitivity but also will show respect and empathy towards the people they meet. It will also help them to view daily life problems through different perspectives. Children will get a better idea of differentiating between good and evil, beautiful and ugly, and normal and abnormal. They will understand that the difference set by the norms of the society are not rigid and the world is a much more flexible and an open place to live in. Therefore, it is the job of the parents to enlighten their children about different cultures as the very foundation of learning something new starts from an early age.