One of the most interesting things about travel is learning about other cultures. The great thing is, you don’t have to go far from home to experience another culture, especially in the U.S. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, a little effort can go a long way in engaging kids in cultural exploration. Here are four ideas to try before, during and after your trip.
• Talk about culture in general. Many kids don’t understand what culture is. Talk with them about the elements that comprise culture (food, language, dress, customs, religion, etc.) and have them identify elements of their own culture. Once kids have an understanding of what culture is, they are better able to identify elements of the culture you will experience on your trip.
• Introduce them to the culture of the place you’ll be visiting. This can be done in many ways, depending on your children’s ages. Reading books, watching videos and doing art projects are all great ways to engage your kids in cultural exploration before you even get on the plane. Encourage your kids to identify cultural elements they would like to experience on the trip and help them make this a reality. (The website www.incultureparent.com has some great ideas to get you started.)
• Participate in cultural activities while you’re on your trip. From eating traditional food to attending a performance, there are many ways to engage with the local culture. Talk to your kids about what they are experiencing and ask them to make their own observations. Encourage them to really jump in and take part in cultural activities, and document this through photographs or videos.
• Encourage them to share their cultural experiences. Once you’re back home, encourage your kids to share their cultural experiences with other people. Perhaps they could bring in a souvenir to school for show and tell, or do a presentation in front of their class. Another idea is to invite friends over and have your kids show them pictures or videos of themselves participating in cultural activities.