Tuesday, August 14, 2012

8 Easy Ways to Promote Cultural Awareness in Young Children

We live in a relatively homogenous area, so we sometimes have to go out of our way to introduce the concept of other cultures to our young children. Below are a few painless ways we incorporate cultural awareness into our homeschool and daily life- maybe they'll work for you too!

1. Choose a few culturally-specific musical instruments to incorporate into your child's play. Sure, plastic drums and tamborines are fun, but including a finger drum or kalimba into your child's play will facilitate conversations between you about what types of cultures use certain instruments, and the types of music those instruments produce.

2. Play culturally diverse music recordings during playtime or snacktime. Using music to "speak" to children about different cultures and climates (what is a "rain dance" and why might people use them?) is a fuss-free way to make them aware that not all people like the music they listen to.

3. Incorporate some books into your home library which promote diversity. We have an extensive collection of children's books which alert kids to different cultures (I am a former social studies teacher, after all!), but some of our favorites are People, What is Your Language?, and The Usborn Book of Peoples of the World. There is also a neat bimonthly literary magazine called Skipping Stones which highlights multicultural writing- poems, short stories, etc- that we subscribe to and read with our children. (I really love the last one- it's even printed on recycled paper using soy ink!)

4. Observe national holidays from other countries. Check out this great list of opportunities to experience holidays from a variety of countries, right in your own home!

5. Put up a world map and/or globe at child's height in the room where your child plays most. Place stickers onto the map to indicate where you live, and then continue the tradition as your child shows interest in another country (likely through a few of the above suggestions!).

6. Include cultural dress in your dress up area. This can be as simple as including an Equadorian length of cloth or as elaborate as ordering a sari for young children. You can decide what your family needs.

7. Get cooking! Do a Google search for some native foods for a country or region your child has shown interest in. Perhaps you met a Sudanese neighbor today? Try making some tomato salad or basboosa. Did a story about a Vietnamese boy catch your child's eye at the library? Try some Bun Na Guong at dinner. Or check out this awesome Around the World in 12 Dishes post by Juggling with Kids. She even provides a passport and the essential facts for each country she highlights!

(Picture from our unit of A Pair of Red Clogs)

8. Visit a museum or cultural center in your area. What amazing things children can experience with an adult who is willing to read, experience and interpret new ideas with them.

Happy globe-trotting!


  1. I would not hesitate recommending this store. In fact, I am now thinking about buying a pipa here. bucks blues society

  2. With all due respect, this is a prime example of teaching privilege and cultural appropriation, not cultural awareness.



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