The world has definitely become smaller the more connected we are. It’s much easier for anyone these days to be globally minded and connect with someone in the other side of the world and to learn about different cultures without leaving your home. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that individual societies are also more open and diverse racially, culturally and ethnically. Some days when you turn on the news it actually feels like whole groups are becoming much more closed minded out of fear of losing their cultural identity over others.
But our children are the future. Our children can individually be a friend to the whole human race. They are born into the era where technology has reduced both space and time, allowing us to very easily reach out of our own bubble and know that there’s more.
It’s our task to ensure that we provide an opportunity and an environment for our kids to become globally minded citizens of the world. Compassion, empathy, an open heart and an acute emotional intelligence accompany children with global minds that are at ease in different cultures, languages and races.
I’m doing my bit with my daughter by making sure she’s bilingual from birth (and hopefully multilingual soon!) and is well connected to the two countries where her parents are from: Mexico and El Salvador. I also obsessed over making sure she got enrolled into a language magnet school where she’s in the Spanish program, but is exposed to the other three languages being taught in dual immersion models in her school: French, German and Italian. This constant exposure to so many languages in her own school yard and hallways has already made her aware that there’s a huge world out there with different ways of thinking, living and speaking.
But I know there’s more we can all do, so I reached out to 20 of the most well-known parenting bloggers and authors on the topic of raising multicultural, multilingual and compassionate children and asked them to share their #1 tip on raising a globally minded child.
20 Expert Tips on Raising a Globally Minded Child 1 of 21
They truly are the experts living what they preach.
Modeling through thoughts, words, and actions 2 of 21
We hope to raise our daughter to be globally-minded by modeling through our "thoughts, words, and actions". For example, we talk about and travel to our different homelands, we read and share about different cultures, we play and learn in another language (Spanish), and we live in a multicultural city.
Be a friend to the whole human race 3 of 21
The photo is of my daughter in her pre-school while we lived in the Gambia. A theme that became so clear to me, seeing my children interact in a new country, was "Be a friend to the whole human race." As I saw them make friends I realized that being a global citizen truly is an extension of seeing ourselves as a friend to all. Friendship is a universal theme, something every culture and every age values. So if you break down the idea of what it means to be a good friend loyal, caring, kind, helpful, non-judgemental, and sharing fun times/exploring together then this can de-mystify what it means to be a global citizen.
As my children were growing up (the oldest is in college now), we considered if our actions and attitudes reflected that of a "friend to the whole human race." And this way, global citizenship felt like such a natural extension of our daily lives.
Homa S. Tavangar
Author, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World (Random House/Ballantine Books)
Multiple languages are windows to the world 4 of 21
We're trying to raise our kids in a way that being around cultures, religions and languages different from our own is the norm versus a one-off experience. One critical leg of this three-legged stool is language. Start as young as possible! Mine have grown up with Arabic since birth, we started French classes when they were 2 and 4 and more intensive immersion Spanish at 3 and 5.
The more languages they can speak, the more windows on the world we are giving our children.
An unprejudiced grasp of culture and identity 5 of 21
We're a multicultural, bi-racial family of five - my husband's Pakistani, I'm Irish, our two daughters were born in England and our son, in Scotland. We currently live in Canada.
Because of their mixed heritage, it's vital our children have a firm, unprejudiced grasp of culture and identity. We help them embrace cultural difference through diet and dress, an open attitude and an understanding of the balance between fitting in and remaining true to yourself. But as well as talking about difference, we also discuss how people everywhere share commonalities like fear, joy, hunger, excitement and fatigue - whatever a person's skin-colour, language, dress or behaviour, they all eat, fart, laugh or cry.
I think this is what makes our kids so outgoing and compassionate, they constantly make me proud with their kindness and courage.
Expose them to diverse cultures from an early age 6 of 21
My number 1 tip for raising globally minded children is to expose them to diverse cultures from an early age. Kids will develop awareness and appreciation for diverse languages and cultures if we as parents show them to appreciate the richness and beauty of other cultures. I am lucky to live in the most ethnically diverse county in the US (Queens, NY) , and Enzo's toddler classes are a wonderful mix of religions, ethnicities and languages! For us, it is very important that he is surrounded by diversity and that he learns to respect other cultures from an early age.
Read books from around the world 7 of 21
I'd love to share my thoughts on one way we've adopted in our family to raise our children to be globally-minded citizens and that is through exposing them to diverse children's literature. We regularly handpick and read books from around the world to experience other cultures from the comfort of our home. Reading stories set in varied cultural backdrops particularly with kids like themselves in dissimilar circumstances and through books on the geography of faraway lands we nurture in them respect and empathy towards peers and people from other cultures, religions and races. Additionally, it creates better awareness and understanding of the bigger world they are part of which is important to be globally-minded always.
Teach them a love for life 8 of 21
My #1 tip on raising globally-minded children is teach them a love for life, different cultures, and to embrace their own cultural identity. A good way to do this is by helping them expand their horizons of our culturally diverse world through every day events, such as festivals, trying out ethnic foods, making cultural crafts, reading multicultural books, and traveling.
Frances Diaz Evans
Books with characters from around the world 9 of 21
Our family reads lots and lots of children's books with characters and stories from around the world. The kids also have a world map they can reach where we find and talk about the different places in which the stories take place.
A global view 10 of 21
No matter how global your view, their world will be bigger than you ever imagined. Don't let your agenda, your fear, or your love, limit them.
An attitude of gratitude 11 of 21
Engage. Get involved with diverse communities and encourage questions. And as they develop an understanding of the world, develop an attitude of gratitude for what they have, for who they are, for what they learn, and for who others are, for what others have to offer.
From raising three kids in Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya over the last 11 years, we have definitely learned the importance of thankfulness.
Rachel Pieh Jones
Treat others how you would want to be treated 12 of 21
My number #1 tip for raising global citizens is to show and tell them about as many different cultures as possible. We have been fortunate to travel with our children a lot, but even if you can't travel internationally, you can still experience the world in your own city through different museums, cultural fairs, festivals and even restaurants.
We also talk a lot about respect and acceptance. Accepting people for who they are, where they come from, what they look like or what they believe. It's been said before but is so true and worth repeating, "Treat others how you would want to be treated."
Never give up 13 of 21
Never give up! Since I had to become more globally minded before I could raise my child that way, it's been quite the journey already and he's only one! It's important not to give up and keep going. Make mistakes and enjoy the journey!
Travel and cultural experiences 14 of 21
Through travel and cultural experiences you can encourage children to be aware of and embrace many similarities and differences in the world. At home it's fun to use cooking, books, music, art projects, clothing and videos to experience various countries virtually since we can't travel everywhere on a budget.
Respect for the uniqueness and value of everyone 15 of 21
Help your global kids to build a sense of genuine respect for the uniqueness and value of everyone, and to recognize their responsibility to help create an environment of peace for the planet. From a global perspective, my hope is that a growing number of children are being raised to value the principle of peace and its benefits so that as adults they will be more willing and able to engage in peaceful and cooperative pursuits with others within their community and, ultimately, around the world.
See everyone as part of one human family 16 of 21
I am trying to raise my boys to see everyone as part of one human family. We do this through teaching the principle of "unity in diversity" - celebrating differences within the context of our underlying unity.
Share a meal from a different country 17 of 21
My family and I share a meal from a different country every week. We've been doing it since my daughter turned seven months old. We're almost done cooking the world; my now four-year old daughter has grown up appreciating and respecting other cultures, plus it literally spices up dinnertime!Sasha Martin
The world in your city 18 of 21
I feel fortunate that my family lives in a vibrant, diverse city like Chicago. We try to visit as many of its neighborhoods to experience new cultures, people, places and foods. It's a great way to open our sons' minds to the world - without leaving Chicago.Aimee Thompson
Show them the world 19 of 21
Show them the world: show them how other people live, eat, play, work, etc. The daily little things matter.
Connecting to our own cultural background and heritage 20 of 21
One of the things I highly recommend to families if you are wanting to raise globally-minded children is to travel. I know it sounds basic, but so many people think that the only way to raise globally-minded children is by leaving their own country. Even better, let's start by connecting our children to our own cultural background and heritage.
Be curious and appreciative 21 of 21
I think the most important thing is to be curious and appreciative yourself about the diverse countries, cultures, and traditions of our world.
Buy the book I co-authored, Bilingual is Better: Two Latina Moms on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America.
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