Travel is an obvious answer, but far-flung trips may not fit your vacation budget. Raising global kids doesn't have to break the bank or feel like another task for your to-do list. Instead, make it a fun exploration and a unique opportunity to learn, enjoy, explore, and grow.
Here are seven ways to get started:
Hang a world map in a high-traffic spot so kids get familiar with (and curious about) country and city names, locations, cultures, and languages. Place a globe where they can reach it and they're sure to spin it and imagine far-off places.
Consider other decorative items that have a global connection. Some items will come with a story, like a rug woven by women working to improve their lives. Look for picture books that feature houses, gardens, recipes, or sports in far-off places. Do you have examples of foreign currency? Frame them and hang them on the wall as conversation pieces.
International news reports are full of difficult subjects, but you can find gentler ways to start a conversation. Perhaps a friend has an ethnic celebration coming up or kids from another country have just enrolled at your child's school.
Check your clothing labels. Was your T-shirt made in Peru, Bangladesh, or China? Find those places on your map and talk about what life might be like there.
You don't have to be an expert. Just your sincere interest serves as a powerful example that you care about the larger world.
You don't need to stop what you're doing to declare "Now we're going to listen to world music!" Just slip it into your music rotation. Dance to it while making dinner, listen while driving, or turn on a soothing selection at bedtime. You and your kids will hear lyrics in foreign languages and you'll also hear English sung with varied accents.
Try a family-friendly foreign film, especially those told from a child's point of view. Where would you like to go tonight — Mongolia, Ireland, or India?
Make it a global snacking experience, too. Find an ethnic grocery store near you and ask the storekeeper to recommend best-selling snacks to pair with your movie.
Handmade art and crafts make terrific gifts. It's even better when you know the artisan benefited directly from the sale. Consider buying teacher, holiday, and birthday presents from a fair-trade store in your town or online. Kids can find meaning and pride in a purchase that connects them to the bigger world.
Find out if your child's school teaches any foreign languages. Can you support the effort or help get a program started? At home, try online learning programs and language software. Play games with your kids to practice their skills or help with an after-school foreign language club.
Do you know a friend or neighbor who speaks a foreign language you and your kids would like to learn? Maybe you can arrange for informal tutoring.
Offer your time and resources to make a difference. It cultivates empowerment, motivation, and a sense of global connection. Serving helps make it real for both you and your kids.
Where to start? Talk to local people already engaged in service. You also can take a look at U.S. and global programs making a difference on websites like GlobalLiving.com.
A global perspective can begin a family adventure that connects us with diverse communities and helps us see beyond our immediate circumstances. It also prepares kids to succeed in an interconnected economy and society. Locally and globally, it's a win-win-win.
|UNICEF UNICEF is a leading advocate for children's rights.|
|Growing Up Global A site to help parents introduce kids to other cultures, ethnicities, and ways of life - whether through traveling far away or staying close to home.|
|Studying Abroad Do you dream of traveling to cool places, meeting interesting people, and maybe picking up a language or two? Learn about the benefits of study abroad programs.|
|Community Service: A Family's Guide to Getting Involved One of the most satisfying, fun, and productive ways to unite as a family is volunteering for community service projects. It sets a good example for your kids and helps the community.|
|Teaching Your Child Tolerance Teaching tolerance is important - the differences that come from living in a melting pot enrich our culture, bringing new ideas and energy. And people who are open to differences have more opportunities in education, business, and so many other ways.|
|Volunteering Volunteering gives you an opportunity to change lives, including your own. Get ideas on things you can do and tips on getting started in this article for teens.|
|Be a Volunteer Volunteering gives you a great feeling because you know you're making a difference. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|How to Talk to Your Child About the News News from the TV, radio, and the Internet is often educational. But when stories are about violence or other disturbing topics, parents can find it hard to explain to kids. Here are some guidelines.|
|Raising Earth-Friendly Kids Want to raise "green" kids? Here's how to get 'em excited about reducing, reusing, and recycling and the other basics of environmental responsibility.|
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