It is no secret that this generation of American children is living in a multicultural society. Never before a US cohort interacted daily with different cultures and people of different ethnicities like the kids of today. One of the ways we can help them make sense of the diversity around them is by engaging them in multicultural activities you can do at home and within your local community as you learn together about world cultures and the people that keep them alive.
For many multicultural moms, like myself, leading a multicultural life is a continuous learning experience. We grew up within homogeneous environments in which those around us ate, danced, worshiped and enjoyed the same cultural norms. There were “right” and “wrong” ways of thinking and doing things. That’s why the skepticism of multiculturalism is only normal. Many are afraid that by doing multicultural activities we are going against some unwritten rules of how cultures should evolve and stay “pure”, whatever that means.
Through globalization, however, we have achieved much sooner what was always inevitable due to human migration: the birth of the global village. Thanks to technology advancements in key fields, we are more connected and closer to reaching one another across the country and the globe. In the same manner, our children are experiencing the global village in their schools and neighborhoods and by engaging in multicultural activities with them we not only teach them about those cultures, but we also enrich our own life experiences and widen our understanding of what’s different from us.
Raising multicultural, like everything we do as moms, takes planning and conscious effort. It takes commitment to step out of the comfort zones of the routines: school, homework, sports, bedtimes, and everything in between. Personally, I need to constantly remind myself of participating in multicultural activities and events in my local community and also create multicultural activities to do in our home that can support what they see and experience outside.
5 Multicultural Activities To Engage Kids Ages 5 to 17
Fiesta Time! As a Caribbean family, we love a good party and honestly tend to feel as if we are “the best” at it. However, it is a great learning experience for everyone to create theme celebrations of how people celebrate around the world. Go beyond decorating and serving traditional foods; make sure you bring books from the library that describe the significance of the celebration, play traditional music and create word games that relate to the chosen theme, so kids can learn words in the language of the chosen country. It can be done once a month, or even once quarterly if you have time constraints. It will be a fun way of learning about other traditions and values.
Cultural Staycations. Managing a family budget makes us appreciate the concept of staycations. While I’d love to be globetrotting with my kids, the reality is that most of the traveling we get to do is within the US where we live. That’s why I loved the idea that my friend Michelle, a former school principal, gave me a few years ago. Create a staycation at home in which for one day, you “travel” to a foreign country. You can prepare everything in advance, and even invite your kids’ friends if they like, as you go on an adventure. Get pretend passports at the dollar store, research everything about the city and country you’ll be “traveling” to and make the whole day about that place. Prepare suitcases so they can grab them in the morning, they should contain information, postcards, and an itinerary of activities for the day.
Pretend Play School. One thing I noticed my children pretend-play to is as if they are in school. My kids, ages 5 through 10, enjoy taking the role of the teacher or the student and they spend a good amount of time doing so. Taking that cue from them, I’ve come up with focusing on how school works in different countries. Picking a country and creating a similar environment, find fun lessons they can learn, eat a similar lunch and do some of the activities other children do in the chosen country. Have conversations about how are the schools in other places and mimic their environment as much as possible. Make sure to use winter months to reflect the realities of children who live in colder areas and use summer months to recreate warmer climates.
Cooking Culture. Food is a huge part of culture and traditions around the world and choosing a day to cook with your children the famous dishes from a chosen country, is one of those great multicultural activities that everyone can enjoy at home. I often teach my kids about Dominican food and in that same manner, we can use food from other countries to teach our children about their origin and which traditions and environments lead to the creation of such dishes. This is a great bonding activity and can also help us in teaching them about healthy habits and how kids enjoy healthy foods around the world.
Words, Fun & Games. Some of the multicultural activities mentioned before take more time and planning that we don’t have as often. However, creating small crafts, learning new words and playing games children play around the world can provide cultural knowledge and fun with activities that are simple and small. Having handy word games, coloring pages with cultural information and reading together about different adventures will definitely enrich their lives and open their minds about the cultures of the world.