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9 Ways to Raise a Global Kid

Posted by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:26 PM
  • 14 Replies

Helping your child appreciate other cultures isn't just a kind thing to do -- it'll actually help prepare her for her future.

baby looking at globe

The names on the classroom door say it all: Saynab, Jexus, Victoria, Abdullahi. All around Whittier International Elementary School, a public school in Minneapolis, it's obvious the entire community cares passionately about the greater world. Flags and maps decorate almost every wall. If you listen closely, you'll hear the rhythms of 14 different native languages, from English to Swedish to Somali.

Whittier is a magnet school that is an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme. A nonprofit education organization that was started in 1968 to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a more peaceful world, the IB program is making its way into public-school districts across the country. "One of the purposes of the IB is for kids to develop a sense of self and understand how their actions influence the world," says Whittier principal Shawn Harris-Berry, Ph.D.

While the social benefits of such an international outlook are obvious, global awareness has other advantages for kids, including helping them learn to approach problems creatively and come up with solutions that are fair-minded. "When I was growing up, the message was, 'Here is a photograph of children in Africa with flies on their head -- help them,'" says Dana Curran Mortenson, the cofounder and executive director of World Savvy, a global-education program that operates in public and private schools in New York, San Francisco, and the Twin Cities. "Today, we want children to understand the root causes of poverty. Like many global challenges, it's a complex issue where there shouldn't be an 'us' and a 'them.'"

Giving children a more global outlook prepares them for the future. They'll be more likely to be able to tackle the environmental, economic, political, technological, and public-health challenges they'll inherit, says Fernando M. Reimers, Ed.D., professor of international education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. And experts agree that a global perspective is going to be a key skill in our ever more digitally connected workplace. "Companies on the S & P 500 now generate 46 percent of their profits outside the U.S.," says Mortenson. "If you want students who are capable and competitive, we need to be able to prepare them differently. Kids who grow up with an international outlook are comfortable knowing that there may not be one clear-cut answer but a variety of perspectives."

Unfortunately, many American children do not know much about life beyond U.S. borders. The 2010 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher found that teachers rated their students' knowledge of the world quite low, and a National Geographic-Roper survey supports these sentiments. "Only 37 percent of young Americans can find Iraq on a map -- though U.S. troops have been there since 2003," says Mortenson. "We want to change that so our kids are more responsible and conscientious."

The best way to give kids the benefits of a global perspective is to start promoting an interest in other cultures when your child is young -- as early as preschool. "Think of it as a journey," says Jennifer Manise, the executive director of the Longview Foundation, a world- affairs education nonprofit in Falls Church, Virginia. "We are citizens of the world. To understand that is helpful."



.....Ophelia Grace...............Mira Lorne...............Jude Bennett.........Liam Daniel Baines.


by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:26 PM
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abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:26 PM

family eatingShow your kids you care.

If your eyes light up when you talk at dinner about your dreams to travel the world, or you speak with passion about current global events, your children will take note, says Dr. Reimers.

abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:26 PM

children celebrating Chinese New YearFind festivals.

From the Chinese New Year (on January 23 in 2012) to Italy's Feast of San Gennaro (celebrated each September), the United States is packed with ethnic celebrations that welcome the general public, says Manise. "Having a chance to see arts and crafts and hear folktales, music, and language is a wonderful experience for the entire family."

abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:26 PM

family treeMake it personal.

"One of the unique aspects of American culture is that almost all of us came from somewhere else," says Manise. Talking about your children's background and your family's journey to the United States helps kids connect to the concept of a larger world community.

abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

Children dancingEmbrace world music.

If you haven't already, update your playlists to include music from around the world and watch international pop music on YouTube with your kids. "As kids become accustomed to musical diversity they adjust naturally to the various sounds, which in turn makes those sounds feel less 'foreign,'" says Homa Sabet Tavangar, a global-business and education expert and mom of three daughters. She wrote her book,Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, as a way for families to incorporate an international outlook into their daily life.

abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

father and son playing soccer outsideUse soccer to go global.

Tavangar suggests picking a team to follow based on your heritage, your child's friend's heritage, your family's favorite type of food, or the language you want to learn to speak. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association website (fifa.com) includes an interactive world map to help you learn about all the teams and member countries.

abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

Child holding globe of EarthGet into geography.

Place an up-to-date world map on a wall near the kitchen table or another heavily trafficked part of your home. Some families mount a map on corkboard and put different-colored pushpins in the countries where they (and friends and relatives) have visited. And when you're shopping for holiday and birthday gifts, don't forget about globes and atlases.

abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

Stack of BooksDisplay beautiful books.

Kids' picture books and coffee-table books such as Peter Menzel's riveting Material World: A Global Family Portrait can bring diverse circumstances and emotions to life for all ages. Consider children's books including How I Learned Geography, by Uri Shulevitz; Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, about Korean customs; and Beatrice's Goat, set in Uganda, by Paige McBrier.

abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

child holding balloonsMake birthday parties global.

When you can move beyond the princess and Star Wars themes, try ones from global celebrations including Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo, Earth Day, Chinese New Year, the World Cup, and Olympic Games, suggests Tavangar.

abra
by on Mar. 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM

family watching TVWatch a foreign film.

"A 3-year-old can have a warm croissant and see the 'star' of The Red Balloon travel through Paris," says Tavangar. A 7-year-old can watch The Cave of the Yellow Dog, from Mongolia. Other classics include Japan's My Neighbor Totoro and The Secret of Roan Inish, from Ireland. Tavangar recommends renting subtitled movies instead of dubbed versions, if possible. "Read the movie to them as you would a book," she says. "That way they are also hearing the language."

hugss
by Gold Member on Mar. 2, 2013 at 12:07 AM

This is great & so true :)

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