The world is a melting pot. There are so many different types of people, and it’s important that our children know this. There are people with different religions, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds, and children are not always exposed to these different ways of life.
As the wife of a Hungarian, I know how great it is to learn about different cultures and teach my children about them. But if you aren’t married or related to someone from another background, you can still teach your children about the wonderful differences between all of us.
Try these 7 ideas to get your children excited about our diverse world!
1. Interact with diverse friends.
You can’t always choose who your children become friends with, but if you do have the chance for them to play with kids from other cultures, take advantage.
The best way to learn about someone is to spend time with them.
Even if your child plays with kids of the opposite sex, this is a wonderful place to start. And of course, if you have friends from different backgrounds, you can set an example by spending time with them in the presence of your children.
2. Buy toys that promote diversity.
Many little ones like playing with dolls, and most often, the dolls that they get are ones that look just like them. But a better idea is to get your child one that looks completely different.
Different hair color, different color skin, different eye color, it doesn’t really matter, as long as the doll is different.
Showing your child that it’s awesome to embrace a doll with different features will teach your child to love real people who are also different.
3. Serve ethnic foods.
My Hungarian husband is an amazing cook. And I’ve learned so much about the way Hungarians eat since we got married—and boy, do they love to eat! (FYI: Paprika goes on anything.)
Food is one of the coolest ways to learn about different cultures because there is so much delicious food to try out there.
And don’t worry. Trying new dishes doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out SheKnows for some great tips on cheap ways to feed your family.
4. Read cultural books.
There are tons of children’s books that teach about different cultures. You can find ones about different religions and holidays, different cultural customs, and different lifestyles.
And since books are often read over and over (and over and over), the messages they hold will become ingrained into your children’s minds, setting them up to appreciate diversity as they grow up.
5. Travel to different places.
Firsthand experiences in new places will really help your children understand different cultures. They’ll pick up a new language, see the way other people dress and live, and get the chance to see how different parts of the world look.
You can then ask them to identify the places they traveled on a map to further their geography skills, too.
6. Attend a cultural festival.
I remember visiting San Francisco with a couple of friends back in college, and we were able to witness the Chinese New Year parade. It was really cool!
To see another culture in action, displaying their costumes and traditions, is a super fun way to gain an understanding about it. If you can find a festival that showcases multiple cultures, that’s even better!
7. Learn a foreign language.
My son is picking up Hungarian more and more, thanks to his dad (or should I say, “Apu”?). And truthfully, the more my son learns the language, the more I learn it too!
If you speak more than one language, you should definitely teach your children at least some basic words. But if you don’t, there are books, television shows, and lots of other great resources for them to use.
Head over to Fundamentally Children to read more about the benefits of raising your children as bilingual.
This article was previously published on Life as Mama.