Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Globally Aware Child (and Adult)

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
~Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

Your world is as big as you make it.
~Georgia Douglas Johnson

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.
~Lillian Smith

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.
~James Michener

Today we reach our final topic in our Living Lovely with Family series:

Raising a Child with a Global Perspective

What does this mean to you? Is it on your list of priorities? What things can we as parents do at home to promote a healthy view of the world and its people for our children? Do you plan on traveling to another country or continent with your children? What might this travel look like? Have you already traveled with your children? Where and how?

Everyone is welcome to participate. Simply voice your thoughts on your blog and add the link to your post in the Mr. Linky below. Feel free to join in at anytime in the next week. You may grab the image above (or the smaller button on my side bar) to add to your post. If you do not have a blog post to share, I would love to hear your voice in the comments. (Scroll down for my contribution to the discussion!)

Here are links to our previous Living Lovely with Family topics and discussions:

1. What is something you do (or plan to do) daily (or several times each week) to connect with your family, either with individual family members or your family as a unit? Do you have any memories of daily family rituals from your childhood? (Photos, list...)

2. Weekly activities (or even once or twice a month).

3. Special treats. Random surprises. Seasonal activities.

4. Yearly traditions.

5. Vacations (out-of-the-box, shoe-string budget, meaningful adventures).

6. Milestones with children (accomplishments, birthdays, graduation...).


To me, a globally aware child is conscious of the fact that he is not the center of the universe. He has a simple grasp of geography, is interested in new places and cultures, has respect and compassion for others (no matter what they look or sound like or where they live), and knows that God loves every person in this world.

I think the things we do at home to foster this attitude are even more important than taking our children on a trip to Europe. A child who is given this awareness will be likely to carry his interest into adulthood (when he may have more opportunities to travel), but I believe that a child who is (often inadvertently) taught that he is the center of the universe will have a harder time gaining the interest as an adult. (Clear as mud?)

Now the fun part: how. Set an example as a parent. Treat others with respect. Be curious about our world. Be aware of opportunities to serve others, at home and in other countries.

Fill your home with maps and books about other places and cultures. (You knew I would say books, right? Right?!) (I have many of my favorites available in my bookshop.)

I remember visiting my Grandpa's home as a child. He had a wonderful globe which I could sit and look at for hours. I think every home should have a globe available for children to use. You could have an inexpensive beach ball globe, or something of higher quality (or both!). A child's world atlas, wall maps, puzzles, and even geography games are wonderful to have around the home, as well. The World Geography Songs CD and workbook is a fun, painless way to learn the names of the countries.

What we do:

During our geography studies, I've printed off photographs of famous places and landmarks to create 'around the world' cards. I paste the photo to large index cards and write a few details on the back. The boys have enjoyed learning about the Easter Island Moai statues, the Sidney Opera House, Stonehenge, Big Ben, the Space Needle, the Taj Mahal, and Mt. Everest, as well as finding their locations on a map.

We read books about other places and peoples. Some are non-fiction, some are beautiful picture books, some are myths and folklore.

We watch travel videos about other countries. I love the Countries Around the World series from Schlessinger Media. We've borrowed a large number of these from our library. If those aren't available to you, try watching Rick Steves' travel shows (and others) on the public broadcasting channel or renting travel videos from Netflix.

Second on my list, after books, is always food. Any excuse to eat, I say. I think a parent does a great service to their children by introducing them to a wide range of foods and flavors. You can use a children's cookbook with international recipes for starters. I love the Little Round the World Cookbook. It is indeed little, but packed with gorgeous photography and recipes. It portrays one region at a time, and is interspersed with beautiful two-page spreads of breads around the world, vegetables around the world, fish, cheeses, and other food groups. And don't forget the valuable internet links!

People is an incredible, fascinating, detailed picture book celebrating the diversity of people all over the world. It is one of my favorite picture books of all time.

It is helpful for children (and adults!!) to have a basic grasp of world religions, if for no other reason that religion plays a huge part in shaping cultures.

Children should learn about the things other nations have, and don't have. Material World (and others in the series) is on my wish list.
Get involved.

Once children learn that we are abundantly blessed, and that many children in other nations are in deep need, there are endless opportunities for giving and being involved. Looking through the World Vision Gift Catalog, and choosing between a yak, baby chicks, fish ponds, or musical instruments is one of my favorite holiday activities. Consider sponsoring a child from another country. Children may write letters and draw pictures to send to your sponsored child.

Read stories about missionaries in other countries. Pray for missionaries from your church and learn about the country in which they are ministering.

I think it is also important that we as adults continue to broaden our horizons and never stop learning. I recently read Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time. It gave me so much to think about!

In addition to geography studies, teaching world history, beginning in the elementary years, helps children gain a valuable world perspective. History is our favorite subject around here, thanks to The Story of the World!

(ETA: I can't believe I forgot to add learning foreign languages to my list! Can't forget that one!)

(ETA, again!: I can't believe I forgot to mention our 'around the world' celebrations at Christmas! St. Lucia Day, Las Posadas, etc. What fun!)

All this way, and I haven't even touched on traveling yet! Traveling is an incredible experience that everyone should try!

I have a great desire to go on a Europe tour, Rick Steves style. While we plan on budgeting for this adventure, it may be that is just isn't feasible financially. If that is the case, the boys will be working a summer to earn their own airfare, and I will send off my four men to hike across Europe.

All of our boys will be encouraged to go on a missions/humanitarian trip. If the boys show interest, we will look into work/service/educational opportunities for them in other countries during their late high school/college years.

If traveling isn't an option, consider getting to know people from other countries. Invite a missionary family over for dinner and learn about their experiences. Host an exchange student. Befriend the Japanese family living two doors down. Set up play dates with the Russian kids in your child's class. Check with the local college and find out if any international students need an adopted family.

I'm sure I've forgotten something, but I'm spent! I'm looking forward to reading what you all have to share!


Shannon said...

Great post- i think it's so important for kids to look outside their house, neighborhood, city, country.... One fun thing to do is incorporate food into the picture. Spend a week just cooking Indian food or Korean food, or Middle Eastern food. (food is naturally where my mind always goes). Anyways, yes, I do edit my pics and use PSE6 for Mac. It's relatively new to me still, but I love it! What do you use?

Anonymous said...

Heidi, Your post today goes along so well with your mother's post today. It was of course fun for us to read. She did such an incredible job with those pictures! Keep up the good work. Grandma

Mon Cheri said...

Wow, Heidi that was quite a list and will be great ideas for all the parents who read it. And I'm glad you've found so many wonderful resources. The boys are getting a terrific grounding.
I love to hear even Leif rattle off those country names.

Carrie K said...

Great ideas.... thanks! Story of the World has made history my son's favorite too! Blessings to you and your boys!

Unknown said...

Love this post. This is one of the major reasons we homeschool. We have traveled extensively and our kids have lived in Italy and here. We speak multiple languages and have been immersed in many different cultures ourselves so we can introduce broader perspective and cultures to our children plus read, read, read and watch movies that bring other cultures to life (Fiddler on the Roof etc).

I don't feel the need to travel at all with our kids. Just like I don't feel I need to "go" to the Olympics to "experience" the Olympics. We are so blessed to have multimedia and if we use it wisely, the world comes to us in our porch swing.

Our homeschool curriculum is very dedicated to presenting cultures and religions in unbiased devil's advocate fashion, very provocative and educational and they are great at incorporating biographies and readers and read alouds that transport us to those times and places and bring the culture/people/times to life. I find it exhilarating.

Gail said...

a great post and list, which will help me love a little more in this our home away from home.

brava, grazie mille.

Bella Art Girl said...

good posty...just got the juvenile version of 3 Cups of Tea - which has Mortensen's daughter's perspective...haven't started it yet but it looks good

Angel said...

Also we LOVE Drive Thru History! Fun, Biblical and my boys have learned a ton!

ALso I thought it was you who recommended Raising a Modern Day Knight, but now I cant find it, was it you?

Becki said...

What a wonderful post! I have been reading your blog for a year now and have never written. I am in love with your pictures and adore you way of schooling. I have referenced you on many occasions during book purchases.

I have 2 little boys that we Homeschool and we pick a new state once a year to travel to. (it will be countries when they are a little older) They are 7 & 4 and this year while starting our plans, our 4 year old said "Maine - that would be fun!" So, in Sept. we will fly to Boston & renting a car to drive up the coast of Maine. I love that he even knows there is a Maine at only 4 years old!

Keep up the wonderful blog! It is such a great resource to so many of us!