In our house, as in most every home, holidays and traditions are an important part of who we are and the beliefs and experiences that created those traditions help to shape our view of the world. As a parent, I want my children to have an understanding of why these celebrations are so important to us, but I also want them to understand the customs and celebrations of other cultures and people so that they can have a well-rounded view of the community around them.
Introducing your children to the holidays, special days, and traditions of others is a fun way to help them expand their view of the world and to understand that differences are what makes the world such an exciting and amazing place. Children who have an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of other cultures are more likely to grow up to be adults who are more well-rounded, compassionate people who have a positive impact on those around them.
So where do you start to teach your kids about other cultures? Here are a few ideas and resources that can help you being to expose your children to the amazing world around them.
- A calendar is a great jumping off point, showing them the holidays and other dates that are important to your family, then showing other listed holidays and telling them which of their friends may celebrate those. For example, in some areas, schools are closed for specific Christian, Jewish, or Muslim holidays that your family may not celebrate. Explain the basis or stories behind the different holidays and talk about how these celebrations are similar and different from your own.
- Visit your local library to find age appropriate books about the holidays and traditions of other cultures. Read together and talk about what you can do as a family to learn more about how others in your community celebrate.
- Surf the web to find activities and ideas that you can do together. Check out websites like org for some wonderful resources that span many different cultures, religions, and backgrounds. MultiCulturalKidsBlogs.com also has a range of resources and links that can help you to introduce different cultures to your children and celebrate diversity every day.
- Talk to friends of different religions and backgrounds and ask them to share the basis and traditions of the holidays they celebrate. They may even allow you to join in an important meal or help you to plan your own celebration that honors their holiday respectfully.
- Visit cultural community events in your area and take time to enjoy the unique music, dance, dress, and food of those who share your world. In our area, there are African-American Juneteenth events, a yearly Native American celebration, and Hispanic festivals. In most areas, events like these are highly publicized and have many educational and fun opportunities for families.
Our world is such a rich, diverse place with beautiful traditions that should be respected and acknowledged by everyone. Helping your children to understand and embrace diversity is a gift that will give back to them and to their community all throughout their lives.
How do you help your kids to learn more about various cultures and celebrations, both in their own immediate community and around the world?