Travel is an incredible way to raise globally minded children – to help them live diversity, to practice acceptance and empathy, to broaden their horizons, to fill their lives with unforgettable experiences – the list goes on and on. But while travel may immerse you in those experiences, it is not the only way to realize some of those benefits. There are many ways you can create a global household without ever even hopping on a plane.
10 Ways to Raise Global Kids Without Travel
This list is filled with ideas for families of all kinds, and can be easily adapted for children of all ages. There are ideas you can try in your home or in your local community. Enjoy all they will bring to your life.
01. Dine Your Way Around the World
One of the most sensory types of global experiences can start in your very own kitchen. Pick a country, research authentic recipes from that culture and try your hand at it. You can choose how adventurous you want to go, but no matter, you will be introducing new smells, new words, and new tastes into your dinner. Turn this experience into a theme by talking about the country and their culture over your meal, along with playing traditional music in the background (think Pandora Radio).
02. Stay Tuned to Global Happenings
Reading about world events will introduce you to other countries – their people, their culture, their language, their lives, their thoughts, and their issues. It can also raise some deeper and more challenging conversations. There are a number of online magazines and news outlets which are specifically designed for children (News-o-Matic, BBC for Children, Time for Kids, etc.) These tools can empower your children to research on their own, with exposure that matches your comfort level.
03. Make Friends in other Countries
Meeting people along your travels can be an especially memorable part of the journey. Connecting with other children around the world from home can be equally as memorable and influential. There are a number of ways to do this with your child. Penpals are an age old way of bringing children together. You can explore online penpal programs (Amazing Kids! Students of the World) or ask your network if anyone knows of a child who might be a good match. You can also consider new ways to connect groups of children educationally (ePals, Skype in the Classroom).
04. Seek Out Cultural Events
Depending on the diversity of your community-at-large, you may have local cultural events, festivals and exhibits to explore. Celebrate and honor these cultures, typically representing your neighbors who have roots tracing back to other parts of the world. You’ll often find food, music, dress, dance, art and language all mixed into the experience. It’s a great way to feel like you’re in a new country. To find these opportunities stay connected to local events online, inquire with your local library or community center, and find what offerings exist a little further from home.
05. Explore Your Ancestry
Does your ancestry trace back to another country or multiple countries? Explore your own family’s history, your ancestor’s home countries and their journey to where you live now. There are endless ways you can dive into the cultures of your past – interview family members, talk about traditions and folklore, research information and statistics, create art or food or dress like your ancestors, learn key phrases in their language, etc. You can also make it a broader experience by inviting friends to join you in the process. You can then share each of your findings and your ancestry with one another.
06. Read, Read, Read
Reading about and looking at pictures of other counties can spark incredible amounts of curiosity. Even when the country isn’t a main feature of what your reading, but rather a setting where another story unfolds or the home of an innovative thinker or other type of role model, you’re introducing global mindedness. You can match the type of reading to your child’s interests, be it travel guides, novels, historical accounts, folklore tales, photography books, atlases, picture books, language books, newspapers, magazines. If it can be read, it can open up the door to imagination and a million questions.
07. Access Online Educational Resources
Another way to introduce children to global thinking is through the way they play and gather information online. There are many apps, sites and video feeds dedicated to exposing children to the topics of geography, culture, diversity and language (National Geographic, Kids Planet Discovery, Barefoot World Atlas, Global Trek, One Globe Kids, Duolingo). In this case, you can explore the world from wherever you are in the world. Play and research alongside your child to deepen the experience and note any questions or interests that are beginning to form so you can follow up later.
08. Explore Your Interests Globally
Whatever your child’s interests may be, you can find ways to tie them into learning about other countries. And because your child is already interested in the subject, he or she is more likely to be highly engaged in the experience. Some interests easily correlate. If you’re child is interested in dance, you can learn about dance in different countries. Others subjects may require some more thinking. If your child is interested in dinosaurs, then perhaps you want to explore what modern day countries have been home to dinosaur bones. Get creative, but root conversations and learning prompts to their interests to add another layer to their thinking.
09. Debate Topics as a Family
You may read this and think, oh, how awkward or hopefully you think, oh, how interesting. Debating topics can be an effective exercise in empathy. By beginning to see the world from someone else’s perspective you hopefully can find there are many paths which to happiness. Coincidentally, this is also a huge takeaway from traveling. People lead different lives all over the world. People even lead different lives in our own corner of the world. So as one way to practice empathy, choose topics to debate, ask family members to research and then take different positions to respectful defend each side. You can stay lighthearted or become increasingly controversial, depending on your preference. Just be sure to debrief so you can tie the exercise into the larger goal.
10. Model Global Thinking
When you as a parent seek to lead a globally minded life, you will of course create an environment encouraging that way of living from your children. To do so, get in the practice of looking at everything and everyone as a learning opportunity, question the status quo and think about problems and their solutions from outside the box, welcome diversity and new adventures, and celebrate our world, it’s humanity and the many cultures within it. Your love of life and learning will undoubtedly rub off.
Want to find more ways to introduce the world to your children from home? Sign up for our Family Adventure Letter.