Our brains are like computers with countless programs that help us navigate the various aspects of life through all ages. However, just like computers, as they age, they can become less efficient when it comes to retaining new things. Although learning a second language can be done at any age, this is one reason why children are best suited for it.
Being outdoors among the birds, insects, plants and puddles gives your child endless hours of interesting things to do and study. Taking a nature walk with your young child has so many benefits! Being outdoors helps with important developmental things, like improving attention span and increasing creativity. It gives your child a chance to use his "outdoor voice" without getting in trouble. It gives you and your child physical exercise. Plus, the natural benefits of fresh air and sunshine give you both a healthy physical and emotional boost. Did you know that a nature walk is the perfect time to help strengthen your child's language skills? It's true. Learn more about the different ways you can incorporate language learning into your nature walks.
Reading books is an excellent way to expose your children to new cultures or deepen their understanding of the ones they already know about. With recent social shifts paving the way for improved cultural diversity in our every day lives, a number of authors and publishers have happily stepped up to the plate and started putting out compelling, meaningful children's books designed to improve cultural awareness.
It is truly never too early to start teaching your child a second language--in fact, the earlier she's introduced to another language, the easier it is to master. The way a child's brain develops makes language learning one of the earliest skills they can master--before they can crawl, hold a toy, or speak, they can hear--and their brains can process and retain the sounds and words they're exposed to.
Grocery shopping with your children is sometimes tough simply because there is so much to ask about and question in a shop so full of items! One way to make the grocery shopping trip fun for your child while also teaching them a valuable skill is to use the store as an object lesson for learning Spanish words. Children learn very quickly but usually appreciate concrete items they can see and touch, so the grocery store and food preparation time can be wonderful opportunities for learning.
"I am a citizen, not of Athens, or Greece, but of the world." — Socrates
As parents, it's our goal to raise children who feel a deep connection to their community — both locally and globally. By raising kids as global citizens, we're not only exposing them to fascinating world cultures, we're also teaching them to be kinder, more compassionate, and more inclusive individuals. Because that's what global citizenship is all about, isn't it? Embracing our part in communities and the wider world while working cooperatively to make this planet a better place for all.
While these goals may seem lofty, they're certainly achievable — especially for children. In fact, you can easily nurture your kids' natural tendencies towards morality and empathy in a few simple and achievable ways.
What Makes Someone a Global Citizen? And Why Does it Matter?
You don't necessarily have to travel the world to be a global citizen. Rather, a global citizen is someone who recognizes that there are no boundaries to our shared humanity, and that human rights and civic responsibilities transcend our individual cultures, communities, and countries. Global citizens tend to stand behind common goals that benefit everyone, like greater ecological sustainability, human rights, and the end of world poverty.
Obviously, there are many benefits to raising children who think like global citizens. Firstly, kids raised like this will find it easier to be more open and inclusive in social situations. They'll understand that other members of the human community are just like them, which will deepen their empathy and compassion. And when you teach your kids about other cultures and ways of life, you'll help foster in them a lifelong love of learning, education, and curiosity.
Finally, it's more important than ever to prepare kids for a future in which they're comfortable interacting with people of different backgrounds. This sets them up for a lifetime of good citizenship, and even prepares them to pursue careers and educational opportunities in pursuit of the greater good.
5 Ways to Raise Your Kids as Global Citizens
Every family is different, but some of these tips might help your kid on their path to becoming a global citizen:
1. Teach the Core Values: Empathy & Curiosity
Global citizenship requires a person to look outside themselves and their own limited community in order to extend their energy and compassion outwards to others. This requires a healthy knowledge about other peoples and ways of life, which is something your child will naturally want to explore if you encourage them to remain open and curious.
Sometimes children ask questions about other people that they perceive to look or act different from themselves. Instead of shutting these questions down, work with your kid's curiosity by taking the time to explain people's differences — and underlying similarities.
Most importantly, encourage your children to think and act with empathy. Validate your child's emotions ("I see you are feeling frustrated/sad/excited") so that they can identify feelings in themselves. By teaching them the value of their own feelings and emotions, you're setting them up for the next step — extending that compassion and understanding to others.
2. Read Books on Global Citizenry
You don't have to go that far to teach your kids about different cultures around the world. In fact, incorporating children's books that celebrate other ways of life is an easy, inexpensive way to expand their horizons. Here are just a few to get started:
What is Your Language? by Debra Leventhal. Geared for pre-K to second grade children, Leventhal's delightful children's book celebrates music, language, and communities the world over.
What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers. It's so important to teach your young global citizen about what citizenship actually means, and Dave Eggers' book seeks to do exactly that.
Babies Around the World by Puck. Looking for something for babies and toddlers? Babies Around the World is a simple and colorful celebration of the world's babies, suitable for little ones.
While books that teach children about diversity as a whole are great, it's also important to find children's books that celebrate specific cultures. If your child is bilingual or learning another language, consider foreign language versions of treasured classics.
3. Teach Your Child A Foreign Language
"Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where it’s people come from and where they are going." ‒Rita Mae Brown
When it comes to supporting young global citizens, learning a second language can also create a powerful connection to another culture. Understanding a foreign language helps foster a deeper connection to another culture's art, music, literature, and lifestyle. And when you can communicate with another person in their native tongue, you improve social connections and enrich relationships with others.
In addition, learning a foreign language sets your children up for future educational opportunity, internships, jobs, or initiatives that involve speaking a different language. If they want to make a global difference as adult citizens, a bilingual background will help them reach their goals.
4. Set Goals to Travel as Often as Possible
Of course, almost nothing can beat travel as a way to support your children on their way to becoming global citizens. Not only is travel a fun and enriching experience for the entire family, it offers children a way to immerse themselves in another culture. Make sure you get creative while traveling:
Visit playgrounds and parks so your child can play with other children
Go to museums and events that highlight culture
Engage openly and respectfully with the people that you meet, encouraging your kids to do the same
Enjoy local cuisine, art, and music
More than anything, it's important to bring your curiosity with you when you travel. Encourage your children to remain open to learning about a culture from the individuals who live in that culture daily. Often, the most important traveling experiences won't take place in a museum — they'll happen in a local marketplace or on line at a cafe.
5. Explore Your Community: Art, Music, and Volunteerism
If international travel isn't necessarily in your budget — or you simply want to take advantage of opportunities close to your home, then you might find that your community is a surprisingly rich place to teach your kids about the world at large. To get started:
Check with your local library to see if they have any upcoming classes, workshops, or events celebrating diversity or world culture
Scan your local news outlets for any parades or events that highlight a particular culture in your area
Many universities have multicultural events and resources; check out the schedule of events at your nearest institute of higher education
Keep an eye out for the arts: any upcoming international musical festivals or art exhibits upcoming in your area?
Celebrate the World Day for Cultural Diversity every May 21st with your family
Volunteer. Celebrating art, music, and dance is an incredible way to connect with your larger community. However, one of the best ways to explore your community while strengthening the key values of global citizenry is to volunteer with your children. Even elementary-age children are mature enough to visit a local nursing home, clean up your local community, or participate in a food drive. Volunteering helps them understand how their individual actions can make a difference in the world at large — and helps them see the value in global citizenry.
Get Started Today
Children have a unique and incredible ability to absorb new information, develop their neural pathways, and strengthen their compassion and empathy. By exposing your children to other cultures, teaching them to learn a new language, and celebrating multiculturalism in your community — you can help raise your child as a true global citizen.
Hop, hop, hop into a new language with Little Pim! Celebrate the upcoming Easter holiday by printing out this free Little Pim Easter Coloring Page for your little ones.
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Congratulations on choosing the most effective method for introducing babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers to a second or third language at the time they learn best. The series is especially designed to take advantage of the critical window when young minds are hard-wired to learn up to three languages with ease, which is up to six years old.
There are numerous benefits of learning a second language early in life. Children who are consistently exposed from a very young age to the sounds of a foreign language are more likely to achieve native or near-native fluency in adulthood and have a much easier time learning other languages later in life. Research shows that these children also tend to have stronger verbal, cognitive and analytical skills – giving them a head start in school.
Simply put, learning a second language boosts brain power, even if the child does not achieve total fluency.