Despite how the growth of the Internet has allowed us to communicate with people all around the globe…it’s STILL a big world we live in!
And yes, the news is full of gloom and doom, but it’s STILL a wonderful world, too.
It’s important to remember those points, because if we don’t, we tend to develop a cynical, small-minded vision of the world-at-large, and put our culture, our country, our society, at the center of our own little universe.
Ethnocentrism is defined as:
- having or based on the idea that your own group or culture is better or more important than others
- characterized by or based on the attitude that one’s own group is superior
In this age of cultural sensitivity and political correctness, I’m still a bit caught unawares at how little many children and young people I come in contact with know about the world. Focusing on their own family, or community, or country, they tend to develop the mindset that anything different than what they know is “weird” or “wrong”.
I usually want to give them this news flash: we are NOT the center of the universe! And honestly, in comparison with the world, our lifestyle, our government, and especially our freedoms and quality of life are not the norm! While we do need to live grateful lives, we don’t need to take on an air of superiority to people and cultures around the world.
10 Activities to Help Raise A Child Open to The World Around Them!
- Emphasize geography studies
- Encourage Pen-Pal relationships with kids in other countries
- Better yet, encourage them to build friendships with kids from other countries, and also to talk about each others’ family ethnicity/history with all their friends.
- Watch the news together, and talk about the people involved. I would recommend, however, that you do this with caution. It seems these days that the media has neither a filter nor limits to what they will publish and show. Many folks I know have quite watching/listening altogether, as it becomes overwhelming and despair-inducing. A good format would be to watch something like Student News at CNN.com, which is news tailored to middle- and high-school aged students.
- Volunteer in the community to serve underprivileged neighbors. This develops empathy and a realization that there are other people who are suffering in the world, and people who live far differently than they.
- Sponsor a child overseas and use an in-depth study of his or her country as a school assignment. You can even share the results of this activity at International Day!
- Read books about other countries, or whose characters come from other countries, or that take place in other countries. Talk about the events. Answer questions they have; you may have to research the answers together! Wouldn’t it be a neat idea to start an “international book club” with some friends and focus on this genre? Who knows what kinds of discussions could develop?! The website for January’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day has a terrific listing of children’s/young adult books that celebrate our humanity all over the world!
- Also related to reading, have your kids locate on a laminated world map the countries in or about the books they read. They could develop challenges and compete against each other to read a certain number of books per continent or country. If you print out and/or laminate world or country maps from Bright Ideas Press, you can even turn this into a note-booking activity!
- Make cultural studies a cross-cultural aspect of your day-to-day lives. Visit museums, attend concerts or cultural performances, go to ethnic craft fairs or try different ethnic restaurants on a regular basis.
- Model an interest in the world! Travel (when you can), reading, cooking, learning about other cultures and countries will show your children that you, too, have in interest in the world-at-large; discussing these activities and interests will help them understand why…
Our world is most certainly getting smaller and smaller…at least in terms of accessibility! As you teach your children, remember that we are preparing them to be contributing responsible citizens. And helping them to grow minds and hearts that are open and loving to everyone will help them reach others for the Kingdom, too!