by Jyl Lytle
Exposing a child to exotic cultures is one of the best ways to instill tolerance and respect of others. Even if you’re not able to bring your child to a desired destination or adopt an international child to share a little piece of his or her birthplace with your family, it’s possible to teach your child the ways other nations celebrate their heritage in ways that are both fun and educational. All you need to do is think décor, food, music, sports, and whatever you and your kid(s) decide! Try implementing these methods with your child to bring the most mobile parts of and most interesting world cultures right into your home:
Decorating their rooms
There are probably a million options for decorating rooms that lend to foreign themes. Bring kids into the equation and let them choose things they like but give them direction to create a cohesive culture-filled room. Scour the Internet and get all the crafting supplies you can to construct lamps, refinish end tables, sew blankets, and more. Don’t limit yourself to just bringing the world to a bedroom, either. Maybe you can search on YouTube or iTunes Radio for world music or international radio channels while you’re crafting with your kids!
The more creative you get, the cooler the room will be! Find flags, maps, newspapers, and foreign film posters from as many countries as possible. Frame them and establish the basis for your color theme. Use old seashells or other odds-and-ends to dress up lamps, dressers, and other bedroom furniture. Shop for imported fabrics and make bean bag chairs, pillows, curtains, braided rugs, and more. Polish off the look with unique coat hangers and backpack hooks, hand sanitizer and soap dispensers, pencil cups, trinkets, and other décor. You can give new life to musical instruments by using them as décor, too, based on their size.
Teach your kiddo about ethnic dishes from other lands. Make it fun! Allow him to research foreign foods with you. It’s important for kids to understand why different foods are prevalent in other areas, so be sure to explain agricultural resources and the availability of certain foods in local markets as well. For example, rice is grown in very hot, wet climates, as do exotic fruits and birds. The climate and resources explain why sweet, savory, and spicy poultry dishes are so popular in Asia. By researching foods to make together, your child’s mind will be opened, and appreciation for what you provide to them will be firmly established.
When researching and preparing new foods, get your child involved in the process, and give them your full attention. Little ones are great help in the kitchen and are perfectly capable of helping to measure flour, stir ingredients, and more. As the meal hits the table, your child will be absolutely thrilled with the dinner they helped to prepare and may even teach dad or mom all about the intricacies of the dishes.
Music and instruments
Exotic instruments are so much fun for kids and are an excellent learning tool if you choose to actually play them instead of only using them for décor. Try introducing them to as many instruments as you can, as music helps increase the ease of learning in children. Afghani lutes are a great place to start, as these three-string instruments are akin to guitars but are easier to play. Accordions are rarely seen in America but are incredibly prevalent in Mexican, French, and Russian music. Different combinations of buttons produce a wide variety of notes, and, because there are dozens of buttons, this instrument can keep kids busy for hours.
Australian didgeridoos from DigeridooBreath emit fun, spooky, or unusual tones guaranteed to keep children amused and learning. Handheld African or Brazilian world drums from West Music are a classic instrument to help children learn about traditional beats. Let the beat move your feet; dance with your child while they play.
Through music, your child can explore the world, learn about other cultures and have a blast! There are amalgams of exotic instruments your child can play with. Get creative and try to expose your child to instruments from every geographic region of the world.
Like music and food, sports from around the world vary greatly. While some foreign sports may be deemed inappropriate for children due to safety reasons, there are a number of cultural kids’ sports that are safe, fun, and sure to interest them.
Water sports may be played at local indoor pools year-round or in public and backyard pools for several months out of the year. Brought to us by the U.K., New Zealand, South Africa, and other English-speaking countries is a game called underwater hockey. Split up in teams, drop the puck to the bottom of the pool and use only your fingers and palms to move the puck into the chosen goal areas. It’s not as easy as you might think, but it’s a super fun way to pass time.
If water sports don’t interest you, try China’s version of Rock-Paper-Scissors. In this version of the game, kids use their feet and legs instead of their hands. Both feet together means Rock, jump with legs apart and to the side for Paper, or jump with one leg to the front to mimic Scissors.
Through ethnic foods, sports, décor, and music both you and your kiddo can promote understanding, boost their exposure to other ways of life, build respect and appreciation, bond with your child, and more. The benefits of teaching your child about the way other children and people live are incredible. Watch as they flourish, spread their knowledge to friends, take pride in themselves, and grow into healthy, smart, active, and kind children who are ready to lead their generation into a better world for all.