Many people believe that the only way to be exposed to other cultures is through traveling. Sometimes travel doesn’t fit the budget and that is okay. Here are ten ways to expose your children to other cultures without crossing country borders.
Take a Trip to the Different Neighborhoods of Your Home City
Many cities have little cultural nooks hidden around town. From Little Italy to Chinatown to Little Ethiopia, there are smaller versions of several countries on the planet tucked away in each major city.
Go to a Service for a Different Religion
Can you imagine how much both you and your children would learn by attending a service at a Buddhist temple or a Jewish synagogue? Even when people take the time and money to travel to foreign countries, they usually don’t think about dedicating time to learn about different religions, despite the fact that they are a huge part of many cultures.
Take Part in a Cultural Festival
Cultural festivals can be the most immersive way to expose your children to other cultures without traveling. Dia De Los Muertos celebrations are popular in parts of the U.S. where there is a large Mexican-American population. Obon festivals pop up in areas where Japanese-Americans have settled. Many cities across the country have Greek festivals in order to raise money for the Greek Orthodox Churches in the community. Do a little research on your hometown and see what sorts of cultural festivals are in your area.
Read a Children’s Book with Main Characters from a Different Culture
There are and will always be the classic children’s books. Curious George, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and The Cat in the Hat are just a few of the favorites that have stuck around for years. However, these books always portray the same sort of human sidekick beside the animal main character. There is always a person with light skin and blonde or brown hair who lives quite a typical life, whether it be having a glass of milk to dip in a cookie in or taking care of a pet goldfish.
To expose your little ones to another culture in a more subtle way, consider buying children’s books centered around a character from a different culture. Pono: The Garden Guardian shares a glimpse of Hawaiian culture, One Green Apple reveals the story of a Muslim immigrant, and The Llama’s Secret is a kid-friendly version of a Peruvian legend.
Cook a Recipe from a Different Country
Food is one of the most beloved parts of any culture. So why don’t you and your little ones put on some aprons and get cooking? Perhaps try the Bulgarian jam-filled cookie known as maslenki. Or if you’re looking for something a little more savory, try your hand at making Mediterranean grape leaf rolls! And hopefully, you’ll end up with a tasty treat by the time you’re finished!
If You’re Not Much of a Cook, Grab a Seat at a Restaurant that Serves Food From a Different Culture
If home cooking isn’t quite your thing, book a table at an authentic cultural restaurant. Do you know that Indonesian place that you’ve been dying to try? Make it happen! Or maybe you’ve heard about a delicious French bakery just a few blocks away that you haven’t tried yet? That sounds like a pretty fantastic place to grab a snack to me!
Watch a Foreign Film
This suggestion might be better suited for kids who have already been exposed to other cultures – if not through traveling, through some of the other recommendations on this list. Watching a foreign film can take quite a bit of attention and reading. That may not be the ideal movie night your children have in mind.
But if you do think your kids are up to the challenge, Spirited Away is the perfect way to warm them up to the idea of movies from other countries. This animated Japanese movie takes children to a supernatural land filled with fantastical creatures and haunting spirits.
Learn the Basics of Another Language
Learning another language can be very difficult, but perhaps your children will have a knack for it! Does your family speak another language at home sometimes? Try to use it a bit more, so that way the vocabulary and sentence structure can become more ingrained in your kids’ minds. If your family does not speak another language, Duolingo is a fantastic resource to try out!
There are also many benefits to learning a second (or third or fourth) language, especially at a young age. Not only is it easier to absorb the information with young malleable brains, but it also allows one to communicate with more people when traveling, obtain a job in the future more easily, and learn an additional language even more effortlessly!
Listen to Spotify Playlists from Other Countries
We all love to jam out to some good tunes when traveling, and in each part of the world, the top hits are different. Spotify is a great resource to find music from other countries. The ¡Viva Latino! Playlist is pretty much always popping in Latin America, Desi Hits is the playlist to play if you’re looking for some Indian jams, and Women Wa Bas is filled with established female Arab artists.
Have Them Ask Their Friends About Their Cultures
Regardless of where you live, there will be someone with a different cultural background from you and your children. Perhaps the boy sitting next to your son in class is part of the Native American Cherokee tribe. Or the girl from your daughter’s soccer team is a practicing Baha’i. Encourage your children to ask their friends about their cultures, even if the question is as simple as “what’s your favorite food?” Maybe the answer will be mac & cheese, or maybe it’ll be something your children have never heard of before.