“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”Maya Angelou
There are many cultures around the world for kids to learn about and it is extremely important that they do so. They can profoundly impact the way they think, feel, and choose in the future.
The importance of culture in terms of awareness in kids has to do with their ability to deal with differences regarding the different points of view, skin color, clothing, and ways of life.
On top of making sure that your child will not be ignorant of other cultures, you will also help make them more successful in their academic and career pursuits in the future.
Learning about different cultures also breeds empathy, which Dr. Pascual-Leone, a professor at Harvard Medical School notes is of supreme importance.
“In teaching our children empathy we are giving them a crucial skill for leading a successful and happy life. Empathy provides a strong foundation for listening, communications, collaboration and problem-solving, critical skills in a rapidly changing and diverse world,” he writes.
Knowing about the many cultures around the world for kids is, therefore, a mutually beneficial arrangement.
What Cultural Awareness for Kids Mean
It’s all fine and good to say that kids need to have more exposure to different cultures and ways of life. However, what exactly does this mean?
Well, you can start by making sure that your child is aware that there are different people of different colors, backgrounds, ethnicities, and more as early as possible.
As noted by the University of Colorado professor Phyllis A. Katz, even at six months old, babies can become quite interested when shown photos of people with different colors.
Specifically, kids at that age tend to stare at photos featuring subjects with different appearances compared to their parents at a much longer duration.
This means that kids can already notice these distinctions even while their brains are at the early stages of development. This is when you should be the most active in giving them more cultural awareness.
That’s just the start, though. Cultural awareness is also about the differences in lifestyles, backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs.
When kids are exposed to all of those things early, they develop more tolerance to such things and will be less likely to exhibit intolerant behavior.
Why Kids Need Cultural Awareness
Children with a high level of cultural awareness also tend to be more likely to interact with kids that do not look like them.
This helps promote harmony in both public and private aspects, which is especially important given how society is becoming even more integrated as the years pass.
Cultural awareness in children also leads to fewer negative life experiences such as prejudice or conflict that arise from misconceptions or misunderstandings.
More importantly, however, children benefit from a wider awareness of different cultures because of how it stimulates their curiosity, sense of wonder, and empathy.
All of those basically help children become better prepared for a more diverse future or a more globalized one. This can then have a profound impact on their performance in school and in the future, at work.
How to Teach Kids Cultural Awareness
If you are going to teach your child how to be more culturally aware, the first step is to make them aware of all the different ethnicities, nationalities, and beliefs that exist.
You can do this by first showing them a picture of folks who look different from you. You will then teach him about their origins, their countries, their known traits, and more.
Just to make this process easier for you, you can refer to the following points of consideration in helping your kid become more culturally aware:
- Use Simple Phrases in Different Languages – Even short, simple words and phrases in different languages can have a huge impact on the cognitive capabilities of your child, which will then spark their interest.
- Learn About Different Festivals and celebrations – Holidays are always a special affair for kids, so teaching your child about the various festivals and celebratory events in other countries can prove quite interesting to them.
- Constant Exposure to different cultures – Being around other kinds of people on a regular basis allows your child to adapt quickly and be better able to adjust to similar situations in the future.
- Lead by Example – You need to be as open to other people of different cultures, ethnicity, and appearances as you want your child to be so that he will emulate you
- Celebrate Diversity through Reading – Finally, you can help your child become more used to the idea of diverse cultures by reading them children’s books that cover the matter.
Those are the ways in which you can make your child more receptive to cultural differences. More than that, they can be a great method of building a better relationship with your child.