Celebrate tradition and cultural awareness with young children
Studies show that cultural appreciation and awareness contribute to building a positive self image. Developing a strong foundation of belonging and acceptance through cultural celebration and education helps children to create a diverse social network while transitioning into adulthood.
There are many ways that parents can teach their children about their own cultures while exploring others.
Teach the language
Teaching children to be bilingual or multilingual has many advantages. Language is a powerful tool that can provide enhanced insight on family history, stories and traditions. Children who are literate in multiple languages can better comprehend family stories and history. Being multilingual also allows children to form a relationship with their family’s heritage by reading family recipes and stories, understanding traditional songs and more. Learning multiple languages promotes an overall sense of cultural appreciation and understanding.
Celebrate holidays and traditions
The importance of holidays and traditions spans across most cultures. Participating in the celebration of holidays creates a special experience that can help bond young children with their family’s cultural traditions. Parents can help teach children about a range of holidays and traditions to help them build an understanding that their personal traditions may be different than their friends at school. Talk with your child to explain that not all children celebrate the same holidays or have the same beliefs.
Mix it up in the kitchen
Inviting children into the kitchen while cooking a traditional meal creates a special time for bonding and an opportunity for cultural conversation. Talking about traditional recipes is an enjoyable and tasty avenue to teaching children about family heritage. Authentic meals, snacks and treats can help children develop a bond with their cultural identity, especially when the ingredients are native to a particular heritage. Traditional meals packed in school lunches can double as a conversation piece as young children share their culture with their peers at school.
Share stories of family history
Stories passed down through generations are likely to be peppered with life lessons, tradition and cultural history. Tales of cultural history can provide a well-rounded view on cultural heritage. When you help your child explore their family tree, you may find that your child’s heritage is rich and diverse.
Take a step beyond explaining the family tree, and talk with your child about how family history is important to understanding diversity. Having a better understanding of family can help children be confident in their identity. Photos are a great tool for parents to take an extra step to provide visuals in helping their children explore the family tree.
Explore new cultures
There are a variety of ways to encourage acceptance and education of new cultures. Help children to learn about various cultures by watching foreign movies, listening to cultural music and getting crafty in the kitchen. Museums are also a great family-fun place to generate excitement about learning other’s cultural heritage.
The world is vast and there are nearly endless customs to explore. Parents can get creative by letting their children pick a place on the globe and research a new language together. When children are raised to have well-rounded cultural values, they are more likely to be open and accepting to new cultures they learn about as they grow into adults.
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All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.