Raising Global Citizens

I was having a conversation the other day with an exceptional mother of four young children. She just recently moved her family back to the United States after living in several other countries for the previous five years. I was so impressed at how well her children had adjusted to the moves, the cultural differences, and the various language barriers.

I asked her how she felt we could better prepare our children to become global citizens. Her response, as well as my own research, resulted in the same conclusion. Like most things in life, the earlier we start and the more intentional we are in our approach determine the level of our success.

Here are some tips for parents:

1.     Raising global citizens begins with helping children realize that there are needs/issues outside of their own home and/or environment. Get your children involved early in helping others. Donate books to a children’s hospital and gently-used toys to children in need. Help raise money for the family that lost their home to fire.  Organize a winter clothing drive in your community. Support a local, state, or national child advocacy group.

2.     Rent movies/books about other cultures and consider animated features for the very young. Also keep in mind that young children learn best by doing. Cook food and play children’s games from that culture. Ask your children to choose countries of focus and make one night a week Global Night or Culturally Diverse Night—rent a movie, prepare a dish, and play a game from that country. Your children will have fun while learning about places around the world.

3.     Respect begins at home. Do not allow your children to disrespect their siblings by name calling, humiliating, or teasing each other over their unique differences or traits. Encourage them to respect everyone and remember that habits in the home become the way a child lives in the real world.

4.     Be open to new experiences and let your child see you try new things. We owe it to our children to teach them to embrace new ideas and ways of thinking because this day and age requires different skills than when we were preparing for life.

5.     Encourage your child to learn a second language. Dare I say, require your child to learn a second language.

There are great resources available for parents to help raise global citizens. Just because you cannot travel around the world does not mean that you cannot expose your children to the world.

As parents, we want the very best for our children. It is our job to ensure that we are doing everything possible to equip them with the life skills that they need to succeed.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Center, Inc.

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