10 Simple ways to teach kids about their Culture
Culture —it’s something that has been around since the dawn of civilization. We have our own unique cultures, traditions and customs that shape who we are as a society.
Coming from India , I was always surrounded by its rich traditions and culture. My parents were very invested in teaching us about the customs that were part of our family, as well as India’s heritage.
We did a lot of things we were told to do when we were kids. However, as we grew, we tried to understand why we did them and questioned them when we found certain things to be superstitious or blind beliefs. However, what we never did was to disrespect the beliefs our elders carried with them. Even though we could not follow everything, we respected those who did!
Why is it important for kids to know their culture?
Knowing their culture helps kids to build a strong sense of identity. Additionally, by giving kids exposure to their ancestral language and traditions, it allows them to not only connect with their people but also make them understand their family’s past and gain a deeper understanding of themselves.
When they try to learn the diverse cultures in the world, they will learn to appreciate and respect different backgrounds. It also teaches them about the history and diversity of humanity, enabling them to engage in meaningful conversations with people from different walks of life.
But how do we pass on these cultural values to our kids?
Teaching kids about their culture can get difficult. Especially if you are living abroad, away from your heritage and family.
We are a multinational, multicultural family living in Switzerland. My husband (Mike) is a Swiss while I am an Indian. Our kids speak 3 different languages. While they go to Swiss school and follow the Swiss culture, I have to find ways to teach them about my Indian Heritage.
In such cases, you need to make an active effort in bringing your culture close to your kids.
But how can we make learning about culture meaningful to kids? It’s important to find ways to get them engaged and interested so they learn more about their cultural backgrounds.
Here are few simple ways to teach kids about their culture
1.Explain Cultural Traditions and Celebrations:
One of the most important ways to teach your kids about their culture is to explain its traditions and celebrations. This will help them understand why certain things are done in a certain way, such as why traditional foods are served at special occasions or why people dress in certain clothing for religious holidays.
You can also explain any rituals and symbols associated with these occasions, as this will help them make a connection between the culture and its history. Take the opportunity to research about them yourselves. Additionally, you can talk to them about why different cultures may celebrate differently, helping them to become more aware of different cultures and their beliefs.
2.Visit a Cultural Center or Museum:
Visiting a cultural center or museum is a great way for kids to learn about their culture in an engaging and hands-on environment. Many of these centers or museums will have interactive exhibits and activities that can help your kids gain an understanding of the history and customs of different cultures. Furthermore, if you are able to find one close by, it can be a great family activity that can help your kids learn and grow. In our case, I usually take the kids to the temple (as we donˋt have any museums here related to Indian culture).
3.Attend Cultural Celebrations and Festivals:
There are many different cultural celebrations and festivals that take place throughout the year. Attending one of these events is an excellent way to help your kids learn about their culture in a fun and engaging way. Not only will it allow them to experience the event first-hand, but they can also learn more about the culture by talking to people or listening to music or stories.
Whenever there is any celebration organized by an Indian Association, I try my best to participate with the kids.
4.Read Books and Watch Movies:
Reading books or watching movies can be another great way for your kids to learn about different cultures. There are lots of books and movies that focus on specific cultural celebrations or festivals, which can help your kids learn more about the customs associated with these special events. My sister usually collects and sends such books from India for my kids and sometimes I order them online.
Exploring different types of cuisine from your country is another great way to introduce your kids to your culture. If possible, introduce traditional foods from your country so your kids get the chance to experience their heritage.
6.Listen to Music
Atleast I am happy to say, our kids love the Indian music. Unfortunately, they are more fond of the peppy tunes from the movies rather than the classical ones. I hope I can engage them more on some beautiful music.
Listening to music is another great way for your kids to learn more about the culture. Not only will it help them gain insight into the language and customs, but it can also provide them with an appreciation of the musical styles that come from their culture.
Encourage your kids to ask questions. Rather than telling them that they are supposed to do something, explain to them why you are asking them to do something. Sometimes they may find it embarrasing to do certain things or follow certain customs. My son found it embarassing to wear a traditional garment at home! When I asked him why he was embarassed, he said “I donˋt like to wear this as none of my friends do”. Then I sat down and explained why we wear that and why he shouldnt be embarassed about his culture and customs.
So take the time to talk about it.
Also, encourage your kids to have conversations with people from different cultures. It is a great way for them to learn about other culture, they can also take the chance to talk proudly about their own. By asking questions and engaging in meaningful discussions, they can gain valuable information on how people from different cultures live and think.
Teaching your kids to respect their own and other cultures is an important step in helping them learn about diversity. By teaching them the importance of being open-minded and tolerant, they will begin to understand that there are many cultures in the world, each with its own unique customs and values.
9. Be a Role Model
As a parent, you can set an example for your kids when it comes to respect and appreciation of your culture. By showing your own respect and understanding of not only your own but different cultures, you are teaching your kids the importance of being open-minded and tolerant. Additionally, you can also provide a safe space for your kids to ask questions about different cultures and discuss any issues they may have.
10. Explore Together
Take time to explore and learn more about your culture. It can be a great way to introduce your kids to the people, places, and values associated with your culture. Not only that, take this opportunity to learn about other cultures too. Take trips together to experience different cultures, attend festivals or cultural events, or even visit museums. This can be a great way to introduce them to the values, beliefs, and customs of different cultures and foster respect for our differences.
It is important to help your kids understand and appreciate themselves, their identity and the world around them. Take this opportunity to teach your kids about their culture and the diverse cultures around them.
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