In recent months it seems that many have come to the realization that we are not living in a post racial America and in the wake of this epiphany many parents are asking themselves how they can raise children to be anti-racist. One of the most powerful things that I believe you can do as a parent to raise kids who will be anti-racist and stand up against racial (and social) injustices, is raise them with a strong cultural awareness.
What is cultural awareness?
Cultural awareness, also called cultural sensitivity, is the awareness and acceptance of other cultural identities. It is the ability to understand and recognize that we are all from diverse backgrounds, culturally, and these backgrounds shape who we are – our values, our traditions and our behaviors.
Cultural awareness is extremely powerful.
Building cultural awareness helps us to be respectful and accepting of others. It prevents us from believing that what we do is “normal” and that what the other person does is “abnormal” or “weird” or, worse, that it is wrong. We do our kids and society a major disservice when we do not raise them with cultural awareness.
Here are some ways to build your child’s cultural awareness:
Eat foods from other ethnicities and cultures.
Food is a rich part of most cultures and it is a great way to introduce your children to different ethnicities and cultures. I recommend writing down a typical menu for two weeks. How much of it includes food from other countries? How much variety is in your spice cabinet? Look up diverse recipes to include in your menu or reach out to a friend of a different culture and ask for help!
Read books about other cultures and their customs.
Fill your child’s bookshelf with books that teach about other cultures and customs. One of our favorites is Birthdays Around the World. We also have one about sports, school and how other countries celebrate the New Year.
It’s important that our children know that their way is not the only way or worse, the “right” way.
Listen to diverse music (yes, even in other languages!)
Music is universal and listening to music from other cultures is a great way to broaden your child’s horizons. And it’s OK if you don’t know the language!
Learn another language.
Learning a second language has numerous benefits and, of course, an increased cultural awareness is one of them! There are various ways that you can teach your child, there are some great YouTube videos or you can enroll your child in a Spanish class. My son takes Spanish twice a week on Outschool and I highly recommend it!
If you are looking for more activity ideas and worksheets to help raise your child’s cultural awareness, you can also check out my shop.
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