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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

8 Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Global Perspective

When children learn a second language at school, it is likely that the teacher will incorporate many cultural aspects of that country into the curriculum.  Your child may sing songs and listen to stories from the country or countries where the language is spoken.  Photos, books, and movies could also play a part.  Teachers will strive to share culturally appropriate gestures, oral expressions, and manners.  Major landmarks, geographical information, flags, holidays, foods, and historical events all combine to enrich a child’s understanding of another culture.

For example, a Chinese teacher may teach students to greet each other with a bow.  French students may learn to “faire la bise” or greet each other with a kiss on each cheek.  Children may learn that in some European countries students are taught to begin counting with the thumb instead of the pointer finger.  Spanish students may hear about Quinceañera and how it is celebrated in some Latin American countries. There are also things you as a parent can do in your home to help your child develop a global perspective.

8 Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Global Perspective

  1. Have your child teach you the songs she/he is learning in language class.
  2. Talk to your child’s teacher or search online for games to play that are unique to the language and culture your child is studying.
  3. Have your child teach you how to appropriately greet someone in the language she/he is studying.
  4. Learn a lullaby in the second language and sing it together before going to bed.
  5. Go to the supermarket together and look for foods from the country your child is studying.  Be adventurous!  Try something you have never tried before.  Thai food?  Indian curry?  When your child sees your willingness to try new foods, this fosters an attitude of openness and enthusiasm for the variety that makes our world so interesting.
  6. Look online for pictures of homes from the country your child is studying.  Together, compare and contrast those homes with your home.  Two wonderful resources you might check out at the library are Material World: A Global Portrait by  Peter Menzel and A Country Far Away by Nigel Gray.
  7. Go to an art museum and look for works by artists your child has learned about in class.
  8. As a family, talk about supporting a child through one of the many excellent organizations such as Compassion International or World Vision, which allow you to connect with a child in a country that interests you.  Correspondence will open avenues for conversation and communication about world events and how we are interconnected.  When the disastrous earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, my fourth grade French class was currently supporting a Haitian child.  Their immediate feeling was “What can we do to help?” and they felt personally involved because of this connection.

Free guide to help you evaluate a school for your child.

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Topics: Global Studies

7 Tips for Traveling Abroad This Summer

This summer ten local students (including 8 from Sewickley Academy) will be traveling abroad together to the July program of Reach Cambridge a three week pre-college program held at the University of Cambridge. 

In order to get psyched and get to know each other, members of the group met recently over cucumber sandwiches and shortbread. In a “getting to know each other exercise”, they enthusiastically responded to questions which I think are valuable for anyone undertaking a global experience this summer, such as:

• I chose this program because:
• The excursions and activities that look most interesting to me include:
• One stereotype I have about the British that I want to check out for myself:
• One thing about the program that I may be a little nervous about:
• One thing my parents are probably a little nervous about:
• My best summer memory to date:
• If I had to spend a week by myself on a desert island, three things I would need to have with me:

When parents joined us, I offered 7 tips for a successful experience as both students and their parents look ahead (with a little trepidation and lots of excitement):

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Topics: Global Studies

Why Our Global Studies Program Matters

Sewickley Academy's Global Studies Certificate Program has helped me develop my opinions on global interaction. Before participating in the program, I had a vague idea that there was a world beyond the small town of Sewickley, but I had little incentive to step outside my comfort zone and become a part of it. Through my international travel and the Global Gtudies courses, both required by the program, I’ve become a more informed global citizen.

The Global Studies courses offered by the school were one of my favorite parts of the program. After three years of summer travel abroad, I had reached a point where I wanted to learn more about other cultures. Yes, one learns most effectively by immersion, but being a student, I hardly had the time to pack my bags and travel the globe. These courses offered an alternative method to learning about the sensitive issues in other countries. Too many times when I traveled had I experienced kids my own age mocking American ignorance.

“Americans are so full of themselves.”

“Americans don’t know about politics besides their own.”

“Oh you wouldn’t know about this issue, you’re American.”

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Topics: Global Studies

Using Books to Expand Your Child's Global Horizons - Part II

This post is the second in a two-part series about helping your child think globally.

The U.S. Department of Education recommends that parents and their children “read many stories with rhyming words and lines that repeat.  Invite the child to join in on these parts.”  This strategy can be used when reading in any language.  Many familiar stories can be found in languages other than English.  If it is a story with much repetition, the pattern of the story can be learned quickly by you and your child.  Additional stories can be created using the same pattern but different vocabulary. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, is an example of a repetitive story known to many children. Children enjoy taking the familiar story and creating their own version.  This is a way to expand your child’s vocabulary in another language.

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Topics: Global Studies

Using Books to Expand Your Child's Global Horizons - Part I

This post is the first in a two-part series about helping your child to think globally.

We all know that reading aloud together is a proven method to increase your child’s knowledge base, vocabulary, and reading fluency.   It’s also a wonderful parent-child bonding time as your child comes to associate reading, learning, and love.  Through books, you can easily expand your child’s knowledge of other cultures and languages.

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Topics: Global Studies

Recipe for Understanding the Connected World

How can international organizations, removed from sites of conflict by thousands of miles, negotiate with groups that they see as threatening the people of a nation? Communication necessitates more than translation of languages; understanding a region comprises knowledge of religions, of geography, of historical events, of folktales and intrinsic beliefs of the peoples of that region. Culture, so complex that it requires intricate categorization for people to even begin to understand how it fits together, determines the way that two governments communicate.

To understand a region, one must follow the following recipe:

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Topics: Global Studies

Becoming Israel

All my life, Israel has been a story. And so I could not have been more amazed to find myself sitting in the Tel Aviv apartment of scholar Rachel Korazim; even after two weeks of traveling with fellow educators throughout the country, the reality of this astonishing opportunity was hard for me to grasp. Rachel encouraged us, while passing around cold drinks and cookies, to try to articulate what we would we bring back to our classrooms, to our communities, from this rich experience. At that time, answers were hard for me to formulate. I kept returning to just one word: complexity.

For months, I could not talk about Israel. There were too many stories; I was still processing, and I wasn’t sure that I could do them justice. My family and friends asked, how was Israel? And I—an English teacher and lover of words—was consistently speechless.

School began, and with it a new unit I’d been developing for this fall: Foundational Stories. With the goals of understanding archetypes in literature and addressing the issue of how stories shape societies, we embarked upon a journey that took us to many times and places.

Toward the latter part of the unit, we came to a tale that I called “A Story about Stories.” The text itself was a short summary version of a Hasidic tale I’d heard orally many times, followed by a short commentary paragraph by modern-day writer Rabbi Rami Shapiro. The questions I asked the students to consider while reading the story were both the simplest and the most complex ones we’d be asking all year:

  • What do you think is meant by Shapiro’s statement: “We don’t simply listen to a story; we become the story”? Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  • How can a story sometimes “prove sufficient” in the face of a difficult problem or dire situation?

Here is the text we read with those questions as our guides.

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Topics: Global Studies

This Is Why We Have a Global Studies Program

Over spring break 2013, six Sewickley Academy students traveled to Germany as part of the exchange with the Erasmus-Grasser-Gymnasium - an exchange now in its 34th year. For two weeks, the students stayed with host families, attended school, and toured the country. This is their journey.

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Topics: Global Studies

Sewickley Academy Students Serve at the Children's Village in Israel

Sewickley Academy joined Classrooms Without Borders (CWB) in sponsoring a Teen Service Trip to Israel from March 17-28, 2013.Three Sewickley Academy juniors, along with several teens from The Ellis School and Shadyside Academy, spent their spring break working at The Children’s Village in Karmi’el, Israel.The Children’s Village is home to some 275 underprivileged children who live in mispachtons, or family units, of 12 children each.Each U.S. student was assigned to work with a particular mispachton during their time at the Village.

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Topics: Global Studies

Bienvenido, Mar!

Imagine what is going through the mind of a 15-year-old girl embarking on a 10-month journey far away from home. Imagine what is going on in the mind of another 15-year-old girl who is about to share a significant part of her time, as well as her friends and family, with someone she has never met. Imagine the families of both young girls who have taken the risk to make this event happen. Both sets of parents were quite aware of the perils and excited about the possibilities. I am sure both girls had no idea what they were about to experience!

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Topics: Global Studies

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