The Importance of Teaching Kids Culture
Everyone wants smart. However, “smart” is an increasingly fluid and subjective term. Psychology Today claims that there are three types of intelligence that create effective leaders, the types of people that parents desire their children to be. Those intelligences include having a high IQ, being emotionally intelligent about their own emotions and others, and being socially intelligent so that they can determine the best course of action within different social situations.
How do you raise a child to embody all three of these intelligences? It begins at home, with the parents. Those parents are entrusted to raise and care for their children. And, the first step is teaching them about culture.
But what is culture? Some argue it can mean the set of practices and beliefs that make up norms or in a more traditional sense, involving the arts and high societal activities. Thanks to globalization and technological advancements, culture today means much more than being “civilized” or “well educated.” Cultured people are those who have been exposed to norms that may not be their own, they are open to differences, and they are aware of the beauty in all forms of art. It can be an overwhelming task to introduce children to culture locally and in the home, but these are great first steps.
Teaching With Arts
The most basic step to take is to teach children about other cultures via the arts. Using different forms of art can be beneficial to a child’s learning. Children thrive in imaginative environments and can’t help but love exploring new materials, sounds and experiences. Visual arts, movies, music, and theater are all great ways to demonstrate cultural values and perspective.
One of the benefits of living in New York is the mix of cultures blending together and showing itself in all forms. New York is full of great museums, exhibits, and performances that are perfect opportunities to take children out of the house and into the melting pot. Brooklyn’s Children Museum is a must visit. As the first children’s museum in the country, it has tons of great learning opportunities, including the Collection Center, full of cultural items from all across the globe.
Not only can you teach children about culture through field trips, you can also work from home. Reading, writing, and storytelling allows children to experience new scenarios, new ideas, and new cultures. Colorful picture books are great chances to show arts and stories taking place in different countries, and they prove to be a perfect visual aid in teaching new scenarios.
Cooking is always a favorite activity. Sampling food that you’ve either prepared at home or experienced in a restaurant is one of the more immersive, integrative cultural lessons. It also encourages children to fall in love with trying new things, even if they aren’t food related! All of these wonderful, hands-on experiences are sure to expose children not only to other cultures but new ways of thinking.
Teaching With Cultural Events
Another great way to share new cultures with children is through cultural festivals. Festivals are held for a variety of reasons, such as religious and regional holidays. Attendees can experience traditional foods, music, art, dance, and other performances that they may never get to see elsewhere. Some festivals even offer the chance for children to become involved by performing or volunteering. Not only will your child learn more about the culture, but they may begin to build relationships that will help them develop a deeper understanding of people.
Luckily, New York has loads of cultural festivals. Check out the Chinese Lunar New Year Flower Market in February, the India Day Parade in August, and even the Greek Independence Day Parade in March. Children will have a blast learning about different cultures through hands-on activities, beautiful performances, and delicious foods.
Teaching With Language
A more fundamental approach to life lessons is the use of language. Every language is steeped in the culture it stems from, and languages are great ways to expose children to the norms of another society. One tactic is to teach children multiple languages while they are learning to speak for the first time. Since young brains are in the perfect stage to develop languages, it’s a great idea to teach them while they’re young. Once a child knows more than one language, they will have the opportunity to communicate with more people. This will naturally lead to an awareness of the lives and situations of people from those cultures.
Of course, you can always sign children up for language classes or have them take lessons from a tutor. Many of these classes specialize in immersing children directly into new cultures in order to fully understand a language and all of its contextual meanings by studying cultural practices, traditions, and histories associated with the language.
To truly learn a language, children will benefit the most from constant exposure. Consider hiring a nanny who is bilingual and comes from another culture. The person in contact with your child the most is in the perfect position to share their own language, culture, food, and values with the children in their care. This will give children a wonderful opportunity to learn not only a language but the culture itself from their teacher.
Teaching With Nannies
Of course, as mentioned before, nannies are often the person who are most in contact with children. A nanny’s job is not only to care for the child, but to play a role in mentoring and teaching them about the world around them. That makes a nanny one of the most important teachers in a child’s life.
With this in mind, consider hiring a nanny that comes from a different culture. Thankfully, they’re in no short supply – New York is renown for its diverse population, being both a main immigration port and an ideal location for those of all backgrounds looking to expand their work and life opportunities. Multicultural nannies will share not only their affection with their charges, but their traditional values, practices, foods, and histories with children who may have not had the opportunity to be exposed to such diversities.
Teaching children about culture is as simple as teaching them to be people. Teaching them to become aware and respect the situations and lives of others is one of the best ways to nurture all three of their intelligences. Parents and nannies have tons of resources at their disposals to teach children about the world around them. All it takes is the desire to be the leaders they want their children to be.
Written By Lexi Carr