Raising a Child with a High Global IQ
As technology makes our world more accessible and open, raising children who are globally aware and able to appreciate and thrive in other cultures is becoming more important. Living in the middle of the United States doesn’t make teaching your children about the world and exposing them to other ways of life impossible. In fact, raising children with an appreciation for other cultures and curiosity about the world is quite easy. You just have to be purposeful in your choices and integrate diversity into your daily life. Here are some ways you can help your children think globally at any age!
- Encourage children to learn a language. Learning a language is easier than ever, and starting young is best! If you know another language, whether fluently or even just a little, speak to your children in that language when you can. If you don’t know another language, consider learning with them. You’ll find many language-learning apps available for children both young and old. We use Duolingo, which is free and has a variety of languages available. The app is easy to use. You can decide how often you’d like to practice, and your children can earn rewards in the game.
- Buy a map. Buy a world map and hang it in your home where your children will see it or get a globe for their bedroom. Play games and ask them to find certain countries or continents. Or even just “find a country that starts with “C,” for younger children. Talk about the places you’ve visited or point out a place you’d like to visit. Focus on the fact that there are children just like yours living all over the world.
- Choose multicultural toys. When choosing toys for your young children, don’t pick just the ones that look like you. Playing with dolls of different races and with traditional cultural dress will help your child to realize the world is full of all kinds of people. You also can choose educational toys that help your child learn another language, such as the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Kitchen or wooden blocks with Chinese characters.
- Visit another nation. Travel is the very best way to expose your children to the world outside their community. If you are able to travel internationally, don’t hesitate to bring your children along. You may think they are too young or won’t appreciate it, but the more they are exposed to international travel, the more they will learn and appreciate it. While visiting, take part in local customs, eat local cuisine, try to speak the language when you can and visit important historical landmarks for that nation. Take things up a notch for older kids and have them research the country before your trip, reading about its history, geography and language.
- Watch diverse media. Choose age-appropriate TV and movies for your children that feature other cultures and have discussions about what they see. Whether it’s Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer or Ni Hao Kai Lan, many options for younger children feature diverse characters and language. As children get older, you can start watching nonfiction programming set in other nations or even foreign language TV and movies with subtitles.
- Follow international sports. The Olympics, the World Cup and international sport leagues provide a great opportunity to get your sports-loving children thinking globally. Choose a team to root for in addition to the United States and follow that nation’s athletes. Point out the different uniforms, flags, names and languages
- Enjoy art from around the world. Exposing your children to art and music from other nations and cultures could not be easier in Kansas City. Whether it’s exploring the African, Asian or European galleries at the Nelson-Atkins or attending a KC Ballet performance of The Nutcracker or a show at the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College featuring many performers from other nations, you’ll find diverse art and music experiences ample here in KC.
- Learn about your own heritage. We all came from somewhere. Make sure your kids know where they came from. Tell them the stories of your ancestors and learn about the different cultures they came from. Talk about customs they may have brought with them or kept alive. Talk about how things would be different for your kids if your ancestors hadn’t come to the United States.
- Read. From birth, choose a variety of books that highlight diverse cultures to read to your children. When your kids are old enough to read on their own, help them select reading material that exposes them to a variety of cultures. Whether it’s a novel set in another nation or fascinating nonfiction, books are ideal for expanding comfort zones and widening perspectives. Many children’s and young adult books set in other parts of the world will help your child understand what it’s like to grow up in another culture. Ask your librarian for recommendations!
- Take part in local cultural events. Can’t be a globetrotter? That’s okay! Kansas City offers so many cultural activities where your children can encounter diverse customs, cuisine and activities. Some of our favorites include:
- Ethnic Enrichment Festival in Swope Park
- Dia De Los Muertos events at the Nelson-Atkins and Guadalupe Centers
- Irish Fest at Crown Center
- Chinese New Year at the Nelson-Atkins
- These are just a few we’ve attended and enjoyed, but the city offers many more, including the Festa Italia, Juneteenth, Greek Festival and more. Find an event near you on KCParent.com and try it out.
Whatever methods you choose, raising global children is a mindset. Integrate diversity and multiculturalism into your daily life, and your children will develop a natural curiosity about the world that will lead them to great places!
Sara Keenan’s home is in Brookside, but she’s spending a year living in Europe with her family, where their favorite local customs include Volksmarching and weekend festivals.