to Different Cultures
By: Margaret MacMillan
No matter what a child’s own culture is, it is important for them to experience other cultures as well. Expanding children's understanding of the world they live in develops their minds, character, and compassion.
Exposure to other cultures shows children that although there are many interesting and wonderful differences among them, there are also many similarities. For example, although one culture may have different beliefs, foods, and traditions from their culture, the children in that culture also love playing, singing, dancing, drawing, playing instruments, and doing all the other things they love doing.
Making children aware of the things that make other cultures unique can be fun and exciting for them. There are all kinds of activities they can participate in with a little help from us. Here are a few of them:
Reading a Book
Children love books, whether they are reading by themselves or being read to. Storybooks about other cultures immerse children in the life of the child they are reading about. If the story is about a particular celebration the character is involved in, children learn about all the aspects of the celebration, like what foods are eaten; what religious activities, if any, are involved; what decorations are put up; and so on. They also experience how the character feels about the celebration and emulate their excitement and anticipation just as they would with one of their own celebrations.
Making a Recipe
Children love to make food. Allowing them to prepare a simple traditional food from another culture fills them with a sense of accomplishment, introduces them to new tastes and textures, and gives them a sense of what others like to eat. It’s also lots of fun. Once the dish is made, the child will have the satisfaction of sharing it with the whole family and telling them about its significance.
Learning a Song
Children love to sing and make music. Music and songs are important aspects of all cultures. Children learn songs at home and at school that they grow up singing and remember well into adulthood. Teaching a child a simple song from another culture familiarizes them with another language; different rhythms; and topics like nature, love, or family that are important to that culture. It gives a child another way to experience and understand cultural differences and similarities.
Playing a Game
Children love to play games. Some cultures have a toy, like a dreidel, or a game, like Catch the Dragon’s Tail, that is unique to that culture. Bringing any one, or more, of these toys or games into a child’s life gives them an exciting new way to experience the joys of play. Not only can they share them with their families, they can introduce them to their friends adding something unique to the way they have fun together.
Children are excited by life and all the things it has to offer. Their minds are open to learning all they can about the world and the people in it. Introducing them to different cultures through activities they will enjoy is an exhilarating way to help them feel connected to everything around them.