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10 Tips for Raising Globally Aware Children

Raising globally aware children

The internet and modern transportation make global awareness both attainable and necessary on a new level! I want my children to grow up with the depth of knowledge that comes only by studying the cultures of the world. Traveling across the world is ideal, but that isn’t currently possible for my family. Here is what we do from home:

  • Keep a map of the world in the house. Use it for play and education. Studying the weather around the world is a great introduction to different countries, climate, and seasons.
  • Explore the different countries at a developmentally appropriate level. I started my World Culture for Kids series to provide greater access to first-hand accounts of countries for parents and educators.
  • Travel the world via your local zoo. Learn about where the animals are from, what the climate is like, and then branch out to local cultures.
  • Remember that global diversity doesn’t have to be international diversity! Small towns have their own cultures, as do large cities. Look at your local history. Visiting a living history site is a great way to increase your child’s global awareness – and there is plenty to be learned at a toy museum, ice cream factory, farm, or!
  • Start at the grocery store. Visit the international foods section and try a new food, or go to the produce aisle, pick a fruit or vegetable, and learn about the country it was shipped from. Then look up the country where that fruit or vegetable was originally found!
  • Spin a globe with your eyes closed, running your finger across the surface. When the globe stops spinning, see what you can learn about where your finger stopped. Even if you land in the middle of the ocean, chances are there is an island nearby to discover!
  • Read books! There are so many incredible picture books about world cultures, although it can be challenging to find accurate stories about smaller countries. 
  • Travel through linguistics! Take your child’s name and see what variations you can find on it around the world. The same can be done with a favorite word or phrase, especially with online tools like Google Translate!
  • Take advantage of local diversity. My kids have friends from India, Ghana, Germany, and Norway – making it very easy to introduce these cultures! They also have a Russian uncle, a half-Russian cousin, and the photos and stories from the time various members of my family spent living in Guatemala, France, Bolivia, Austria, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Japan, China, Romania, Russia, and Sweden. Mike’s dad was born in Lebanon, and we can trace his childhood footsteps through Lebanon, Egypt, Malta, and Switzerland.
  • Channel history. Where were your ancestors from? Who founded your town? Where did they come from?

What are your favorite ways to introduce your children to the world?

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

37 thoughts on “10 Tips for Raising Globally Aware Children”

  1. Great list of simple ideas to raise awareness of other cultures and countries! I also think that activities like stamp and coin collecting can inspire interesting conversations about geo culture and history. I once met a teacher that had my 9 year old engaged for nearly an hour, looking up countries on the globe that matches coins he was given (and got to keep)!

  2. Good ideas — I’ll have to check out that site for books. We just got a big world map but are trying to find a good place in the house to hang it up. I read about one family that put it on their kitchen table and then covered it with a clear plastic table cloth. Once an ant was crawling on the table and the kids found it hilarious to call out all the countries he was “visiting”.

  3. Great ideas! I love the idea of exploring the international foods section at the market and variations on our names – fun!

  4. I love these tips! Thank you for helping spread global and cultural awareness. I have been introducing my kids to the world through our home-based global adventure called Travel on Tuesday. I’ve just launched http://www.travelontuesday.com so that others can do this as well. Our iPad app Wander Our World also won a Parent’s Choice Approved Award this year. Our products are geared for children 3-8 to provide a dynamic introduction to geography education.

    1. I couldn’t get your site to work for some reason, but it sounds fantastic! I’ll check out your app if we ever get an iPad :)

  5. Whooo Hooo! What a fun list of activities! Thank you! This is just what my little boy needs…and the rest of us will benefit!

  6. Lovely post and great ideas. Your timing is perfect. I was just thinking about how we don’t have a globe and was wondering how I would get hold of one to show my children where all of our family and friends live. I found inflatable ball globes on Amazon and I’m planning to order one for my parents to bring out on their next visit. I was thinking it would be fun to incorporate some geography into a game of catch.

  7. Great post, Mama! Our oldest is at an age (5) when she is starting to grasp how big the world is. She has always had friends from all over the world, due to growing up as an expat/third culture kid, and she now often asks us what time it is in country X, or what season it is in country Y. I love to see how she is starting to understand these concepts. We use Skype to call family and friends in other countries, and before calling we always check to see what time it is there (so as not to call at inappropriate times), so I guess that’s where she picked it up from. And she loves to look at maps and globes and have us point out where our various family and friends are. She talks about distances in terms of whether you can get there by walking, driving, driving all day, taking an airplane, or taking two airplanes. Sharing your post now on fb :-)

  8. Elisa | blissfulE

    I particularly enjoyed the loooooong list of countries to which you and your children have direct connections! Awesome! I think that global perspective is probably why you’re one of my favourite bloggers. :)

  9. What wonderful ideas! I love that you mentioned local diversity as well…a great reminder that you can learn so much in your own area, too! :)

  10. Books, books, and more books. Then food probably, but I have to admit with food I don’t do as well telling why we’re eating it, just isn’t this a cool new food?

  11. What a great list of ideas MaryAnne! So many to try! I love the idea of visiting living history sites. We have an amazing Dutch community and a place called Living History Farms. Thanks for the reminder! :)

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