The cold weather is finally breaking, and that means it is time to get back out into the world and explore with your kids this spring. One of the most interesting ways to explore your community is to use local libraries, businesses, and experiences to learn about the wider world around you. After all, learning about all of the fascinating cultures in the world is very important.
For many, geography and social studies may feel like boring, useless subjects. This couldn't be further from the truth. There are several benefits of giving students from a young age the opportunity to participate in interesting discussions and immersive experiences involving a variety of cultures.
These children are certain to have a wonderful understanding of the world around them, as well as a deep appreciation for various cultures around the globe. They are less likely to feel uncomfortable traveling as they grow older and are more likely to be open-minded individuals. People with an understanding of other cultures are also unlikely to have negative feelings toward anyone with a set of customs or beliefs other than their own, and more likely to have friends from a diverse set of backgrounds.
There are many ways to introduce young people to the wonderful ways people all across the planet are living differently from one another, as well as bits of other cultures similar to their own. One of the best ways of going about this is through hands-on activities. Given the chance to explore new and intriguing foods, dances, songs, instruments, sports, customs, and ways of life on their own terms, a child will take the unfamiliar and make it familiar to them.
Here are a few cultural experiences you can offer your child in the comfort of your own hometown.
One of the easiest ways to a person's heart is through their stomach. Trying various interesting dishes from around the world is a great peek into the lives of people from other countries and a great way to find delicious new meals to add to your weekly meal plan.
When making a new dish, be sure to involve your children in the cooking. From math to science to practical life skills, there is much to be learned in the kitchen, and children become more willing to try new things when they've helped with the preparation.
For an even more interesting meal, eat your food the way it would be served by people native to that dish's country of origin. This might mean eating with chopsticks or only eating with your right hand.
If you are looking for an easy way to try international foods, consider visiting a local restaurant instead of attempting to prepare the meal in your own home. There are plenty of wonderful options for this right here in Pennsylvania.
Every country has music, and almost everyone enjoys listening to music. Finding albums with traditional music from a specific country and listening to them as a family is a great way to connect with the culture of any given place. You might find a new favorite song while you're at it! Be prepared though, because each listening session may just turn into a family dance party.
If you're looking to take it a step further, you might consider finding a local musician who plays music from the country you're learning about. Go see the musician in a performance and find out if they will give you lessons on playing their instrument.
Many cultures have their own traditional form of dance. Keep an eye out in your community for cultural dance experiences. Many libraries offer the occasional free dance lesson, and some dance schools will let you attend a trial lesson free of charge. Some types of dance to try include Irish ceili dancing, flamenco dancing, Mexican folkloric dancing, and hula dancing.
If you find one dance form you really enjoy, consider signing up for a weekly class! Dancing is a great way to stay in shape, and many dance schools are very active in the community.
These are just a few ways you can connect with countless cultures around the world. Get creative, see what else you can come up with, and don't forget to have fun along the way.