When I read about the uprising in Syria, the nuclear issues in the Middle East, or the drug wars in Mexico, I end up feeling quite discouraged.
Here I am chopping carrots, matching socks, and sewing on Cub Scout badges–and I can’t do a thing to solve the world’s problems (or so I thought).
Yes, I want to be an informed voter. Yes, I think one person can affect public policy and “change the world,” but what I’ve been looking for (and what I’ve finally found) are simple ways I can shape the next generation, right in my own home.
Last week, I had the chance to spend an hour on the phone with Homa Sabet Tavangar, the author of one of my new favorite books, “Growing Up Global.” (We’ve got a book giveaway below, so be sure to leave a comment to enter.)
It’s all about raising children who feel at home in the world–children who are genuinely compassionate, appreciative of other cultures, and knowledgeable about the successes and challenges every country faces.
Think about it. If every mother worldwide operated out of the same playbook–raising respectful, solid, global-minded children–our future would look mighty bright.
And if you’d like to know five simple ways that Homa suggests we begin this process of raising global children, here are some ideas from her first chapter:
(1) Keep the World at Your Fingertips
Let’s say you have a map hanging in your kitchen, and as you’re unloading your groceries, you notice that your kiwi has a sticker reading, “Produce of Italy.” How simple is it to show your child where the fruit was grown and how far it had to travel to get to your local grocery store? (Assuming your child isn’t throwing a tantrum because he wants to eat the jelly beans you bought, even though you haven’t had lunch yet.)
After the tantrum last Wednesday, my son and I did take a couple of minutes to explore the kiwi-Italy connection, and now “Italy” doesn’t seem like such a vague concept. It’s a place; a place that brings him great fruit, for starters.
(2) Surf the Internet
My children love to be online, but there are so many time traps that drive me crazy. We spent three minutes watching Conan O’Brien delivering Chinese food to New Yorkers this morning, and I’m thinking we could have done something a little more productive (even though it was pretty funny . . .). It’s not like we always have to use the Internet for education, but sprinkling a few global, educational sites into our online time is simple and effective.
National Geographic’s My Wonderful World page is a fun place to start, and the American Library Association has a listing of great websites for kids. There are limitless resources out there, but we need to be looking for them.
(3) Find Beautiful Books
This is where I’m lacking, so it’s a good thing we have such a helpful librarian (who I’ll be visiting shortly). Homa started out with these two favorites: Children Just Like Me and A Life Like Mine.
(4) Enrich Your Playlists and Music Collection
Your local library undoubtedly has a plethora of excellent music from around the world, but if you’re looking for some other ways to get started, I’m thrilled with Putumayo’s World Music for Kids. And since talking with Homa, I’ve been showing my children YouTube videos of Yo-Yo Ma, and I even took my husband on a date to an Italian opera. (Romantic!)
(5) Get Passports
Even if you have no plans to travel right now, having passports opens the possibility. My 12-year-old daughter and I are traveling together to our Power of Moms Australian Retreats next month (so exciting . . . and so nerve-wracking). The week after I took her to the passport office, she and her siblings created their own set-up for their Zhu Zhu Pets.
They took “official” photos of each of their 12 little animals and then printed passport images off the Internet to make covers for the booklets.
This is just a small example, but children structure their play around their experiences, and even though I don’t have plans to backpack through Europe with my four little ones anytime soon, I want to create a life that literally means the world to my family.
We may not be able to do something about everything we see on the news, but can we do something (even a little something) every day to positively affect the next generation? Absolutely.
For more great information, visit Homa’s website, www.growingupglobal.net.
QUESTION: What are the best resources you’ve found to help your children develop a global mindset?
CHALLENGE: Pick one idea–either from this post, from Homa’s website, or from your own imagination–to help your family develop a greater knowledge of and appreciation for the variety of cultures in our world.
Thanks to those who commented and entered our book giveaway! The winner was randomly selected, and her name is . . . Emily Ballard! Congratulations!
For those of you who didn’t win, you can still order the book at Amazon. (It’s well worth it.)