{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Archive for the ‘World Cultures’ Category

Learning and Appreciating Cultures during the Holidays

books lined up on christmas background

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

A good place to begin a dialogue with young children about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is through reading stories. It is especially important to engage young children with stories of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Stories help children extend their understanding of familiar emotions and social behaviors by presenting them in new contexts, and they provide opportunities for children to encounter emotions and social behaviors that they may not be exposed to in their everyday interactions within their families and communities. Sharing stories of how different families celebrate their holidays will help children learn more about their community and the world.

The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board has five favorites to help you begin:

Walk This World at Christmastime by Debbie Powell

Book Cover

We love this beautifully illustrated book that shares family traditions around the world. It is a great book, and your little ones will enjoy exploring each page as well as counting down the days with the interactive calendar built into the book.

Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Ho Baek Lee

Book cover

A little girl is excited to make a traditional Korean dish and share it with her extended family.  Your children will love learning about the ingredients and the fun this family shares. It may encourage you to get in the kitchen together and make some bee-bim bop.

N Is for Navidad by Susan Middleton Elya and Merry Banks, illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Book cover

You and your children will read this colorful and inviting story over and over again.  The book helps children explore a holiday in Spanish. Children can learn new words while following the alphabet and discovering wonderful traditions.

Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

peace

The entire community comes together with the hope of peace for all as Maya Angelou’s beautiful poem comes to life in this book. It’s perfect to share with the whole family at bedtime or during a quiet time after dinner.

Winter Candle by Jeron Ashford, illustrated by Stacey Schuett

winter

Children will be curious about the lump of wax and the light from the candles in the small community of one apartment building. The story shares the hopes of the multicultural residents and how they celebrate their holidays. This story always brings joyful tears to my eyes.

We hope you enjoy these wonderful stories as much as we do, and happy holidays!

Feeling Thankful Around the World

On Thanksgiving, families across the United States gather together to show their appreciation for all they have by having an abundant feast. But our country isn’t the only one to dedicate a day to give thanks. Nations all over the world celebrate similar holidays with food-based traditions throughout the year.

Here are a few highlights:

social-food-illustrations-china

China – Mid-Autumn Festival

While Americans prepare for Thanksgiving, people in China celebrate the harvest with the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, usually in September or October. Originally a time to make food offerings in honor of the moon after a good harvest, the holiday is celebrated today by spending time outside with friends and family; watching the moon; and eating traditional dishes, including mooncakes, sticky red-cooked pork belly and stir-fried seasonal green vegetables

social-food-illustrations-america

The United States and Canada – Thanksgiving

Beginning as a day of giving thanks for the yearly harvest, Thanksgiving has expanded across the United States and Canada to commemorate family and food. On the fourth Thursday of November (or the second Monday of October if you’re in Canada), families come together to eat dishes like roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. What are your family’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Share them in the comments below.

social-food-illustrations-germany

Germany – Erntedankfest

In Germany, Thanksgiving, or Erntedankfest, is celebrated on the first Sunday of October. While it began as a time to celebrate the harvest, the holiday now places an emphasis on giving back. Observers of this tradition deliver baskets of food to poor families throughout German communities. While there isn’t as great an emphasis on a big meal as with the American Thanksgiving, families celebrating Erntedankfest enjoy roast goose or turkey as well as Mohnstriezel, a special Austrian sweet bread with poppy seeds.

social-food-illustrations-australia

Norfolk Island, Australia – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia comes from an American trader who held a traditional Thanksgiving celebration there during his travels in the 1800s. Observed on the last Wednesday of November, Norfolk Island’s Thanksgiving meal features some foods that stand out from typical American fare, including cold pork and chicken, pilhi and bananas. One American dish that has stuck, however, is pumpkin pie.

social-food-illustrations-korea

Korea – Chuseok

Korea’s harvest festival, Chuseok, which is much like American Thanksgiving, spans three days and is celebrated close to the autumnal equinox. Koreans spend time during the holiday visiting their families and sharing a meal complete with songpyeon, which are small rice cakes containing a variety of fillings, including sesame seeds, honey and sweet-red-bean or chestnut paste. The name songpyeon is derived from the Korean word for a pine tree with needles that are used as a base that infuses the dish with the scent of pine when the rice cakes are steaming.

12 Children’s Books That Celebrate Diversity and Differences

how-to-have-a-safe-healthy-and-happy-halloween-5

We live in a diverse world, which makes fitting in and finding a place in your community a little easier. That doesn’t mean that children (and adults) don’t still struggle with it, though. Help your children channel empathy for others or navigate uncomfortable situations by reading one of these great books.

  1. All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
    This story follows a group of children through their day at a school where everyone is different and everyone is welcome.

all-welcome

Find out more

  1. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López
    “There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you” starts this book about accepting your differences and being brave because you embrace yourself.

2

Find out more

  1. Lovely by Jess Hong
    In this book, everyone is lovely, no matter what size, shape or color they are!

3

Find out more

  1. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
    New to America, Unhei wants to choose an American name to fit in. Her classmates are eager to help and fill a jar with suggestions. Unhei tries out names like Suzy and Amanda, but none seem to fit. When a classmate visits Unhei at home and learns the special meaning of her name, the name jar disappears and Unhei decides her name is perfect.

4

Find out more

  1. Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
    After seeing three women dressed up as beautiful mermaids, Julián is mesmerized and decides that he, too, is a mermaid.

5

Find out more

  1. Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton and Dougal MacPherson
    This story follows a day in the life of Errol and his teddy bear, Thomas. One day, Thomas tells Errol that he wishes his name were Tilly, not Thomas, because Thomas is a girl teddy bear.

6

Find out more

  1. Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer and Holly Clifton-Brown
    Stella’s school is having a Mother’s Day celebration, but Stella doesn’t have a mom. She has two amazing dads!

7

Find out more

  1. Meet Clarabelle Blue by Adiba Nelson, Elvira Morando and Ilene Serna
    Clarabelle Blue may use a wheelchair, but she’s not defined by it. Clarabelle is just like other children.

8

Find out more

  1. Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
    This beautifully illustrated and lyrical book is about immigrating to America. A mother leaves Mexico with only her infant son. Through a public library, she learns how to speak English and how to make a home in a strange place.

9

Find out more

  1. Still a Family: A Story about Homelessness by Brenda Reeves Sturgis and Jo-Shin Lee
    A little girl and her family lose their home. The girl and her mother move into a homeless shelter, but her dad is separated from them because he must live in a men’s shelter. Throughout this book, the little girl reminds herself that no matter what, they are still a family.

10

Find out more

  1. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson
    This story follows CJ and his grandma on their bus ride home from church. CJ has many questions, like why his family doesn’t have a car. Through it all, CJ’s grandma helps him see the beauty in their routine and their world.

11

Find out more

  1. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Khan and Mehrdokht Amini
    This beautiful book celebrates and teaches young readers about important elements of Islamic culture through the eyes of a young Muslim girl.

12

Find out more

5 Family Traditions From Around the World Worth Trying

Celebrate the first day of school, the German way.

The kickoff to first grade is a big deal in Germany, as my American family learned while living in Berlin. The weekend before our daughter started first grade, we joined a celebration called Einschulung. Her school welcomed students with an assembly; afterward, families gave the children Schultüten—large paper or plastic cones filled with school supplies and sweets. When we moved back to the United States, we replicated Einschulung for my son. We invited our family over and asked them to bring a small school-related gift, like a notebook or pen. We made him a Schultüte, and the older kids put on a play about what school is like. It makes the children feel responsible, grown-up, and proud to be going to school.

Sara Zaske is the author of Achtung Baby: An American Mom On The German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children. She Lives in Moscow, Idaho.

traditions.jpg

Honor your ancestors, the Japanese way.

Traditional Japanese homes have a small family altar, or butsudan, as a sign of respect for elders who have passed away. When I go back to my family’s home in Japan, I still feel a spiritual connection to my ancestors as I make offerings at the butsudan—a bowl of rice, flowers for my grandmother, a can of beer for my grandfather. It feels truly healing. To set up a memorial, pick a quiet spot, put out photos, flowers, and other offerings, and tell kids about their ancestors. If we don’t mark our history, we may lose an important part of who we are.

Candice Kumai is a chef and the author of Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art Of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Share your culture through stories, the Trinidadian way.

In Trinidad and Tobago, where I grew up, storytelling happens anytime, anywhere—not just at bedtime. We might be driving to the beach or walking to my grandmother’s house. People often tell folk stories about mythical creatures called jumbies to help explain things people don’t understand, such as a sudden illness. Regardless of where you come from, there is a benefit to telling traditional stories. At some point, I realized my kids, who were growing up in the U.S., had no idea what our folklore was, so I started telling them jumby stories. Telling these stories helps the children preserve their culture.

Tracey Baptiste is the author of Jumbies, part of a fantasy series for middle schoolers. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she now lives in northern New Jersey.

Care for all animals, the Indian way.

To show gratitude to animals, families in southern India feed cows and birds during the annual Hindu harvest festival of Thai Pongal. Children learn that all species are interconnected and interdependent. I’ve followed this tradition in both India and the United States with my daughters. In Bangalore, I used to take my young daughters to a nearby shed to feed the cows. We also fed birds by placing fruits and grains on banana leaves and putting them out on our terrace—something we also did surreptitiously at our New York City apartment. Pick a day for an annual visit to a petting zoo, butterfly garden, family-friendly farm, or horse stable where you can feed the animals or help care for them. It’s a way to teach children about having compassion for all beings.

Shoba Narayan is the author of The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure. She lives in Bangalore, India.

Exchange personal poetry, the Dutch way.

In the Netherlands, families exchange not only gifts but also poems during Sinterklaas, the Dutch winter holiday season. Older children and adults each draw a name and write a poem about the recipient. The poem usually has puns and is funny—the more mischievous and personal, the better. On “gift night,” people sit in a circle with hot drinks, and everyone reads the poem they receive out loud. I’ve learned that the real gift is the love that goes into the poem. You’re taking time to compose something special, letting someone know what they mean to you.

Rina Mae Acosta is a writer, photographer, and coauthor of The Happiest Kids In The World: Bringing Up Children The Dutch Way. She lives in Doorn, The Netherlands.

 

This article was written by Betsy Rubiner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Teaching Diversity to Your Kids

56765.png

Studies have found that infants as young as 3 months instinctively categorize people based on their sex, skin color, and the language they speak. Between 5 and 9 months, babies begin to learn about race based on experience, according to a study in the journal Developmental Science. Research shows that 3- to 5-year-olds not only categorize people by race but express bias based on it. Overcoming these types of inherent prejudice will take a proactive effort on your part, and it needs to start early – before your child’s opinions are fully formed.

Tolerance is an absolute necessity in our increasingly global and multicultural society. So-called racial and ethnic minorities now make up the majority of children born in the U.S. By 2043, nearly half of the population will be people of color, according to U.S. Census projections. Our nation is becoming diverse in other ways too. Islam and Mormonism are among America’s fastest-growing religions. Same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states plus the District of Columbia. More than 35 million people now speak Spanish as their primary language at home. And our school system is increasingly placing children with disabilities in regular rather than specialized classrooms.

“Today’s kids are going to have to interact with people from many backgrounds and cultures, as well as with those who don’t look or act like they do,” says Rebecca Bigler, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, whose research focuses on children’s racial attitudes. “Celebrating diversity, not merely tolerating it, is going to be key to their success.” She and others share the steps you can take to teach your child how to be open-minded toward others.

Recognize That Your Child Isn’t Color-Blind

Experts say one big mistake parents make (especially white Americans) is assuming that their children are unaware of race. “We always hear, ‘Oh, my child doesn’t even see skin color,'” Dr. Bigler says. “But kids absolutely do notice.”

As they grow, children look for cues about what different appearances mean and which ones matter. They quickly realize that some things– whether someone wears a hat, for example – are irrelevant while others, such as sex, are significant because we talk about them constantly (“Boys line up on the left, girls on the right”). What about race? Obviously, we don’t say, “Good morning, black and white children,” or “Asians, go get your backpacks.” But even if you never say a word about ethnicity, racial distinctions are plainly visible to kids. “Many communities are highly segregated, which children notice. You’ll be driving through town and your preschooler is thinking, ‘Oh, here’s where the Chinese people live,'” Dr. Bigler says.

Children’s tendency to assign traits based on race accelerates in grade school. So if all the teachers at your child’s school are white while only people of color work in the lunchroom and handle security, the inequity will not be lost on your kid. By age 7, most African-American kids believe whites are more likely to hold high-status jobs, according to Dr. Bigler’s study findings. “If you don’t change your kids’ outlook when they’re young, they’ll come to their own incorrect conclusions,” says Kristina Olson, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Washington, who studies racial attitudes among kids.

Start Talking

Aside from observing skin color, even a preschooler can see that some people are big and others are skinny, that some celebrate Christmas and others Hanukkah, and that certain kids are smarter than others. And if your local gas-station attendant has a thick accent, she’ll notice that too.

Are you talking about these differences? Probably not. A study published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology found that approximately 57 percent of parents of white children never or almost never discussed race with them. Black parents, though, are far more likely to bring it up. “People of color have to prepare their children for uncomfortable moments,” says Shauna Robinson, of Thousand Oaks, California, who is black. She broached the topic with her then 5-year-old son, Lexington, by reading him Chocolate Me!, which is about a boy who is teased for having dark skin and curly hair.

With a child who is 3 or 4, you can explain that people come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. “You could even try holding up a green apple and a red apple,” suggests Maureen Costello, director of the Teaching Tolerance project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, in Montgomery, Alabama. “Say, ‘They look different on the outside, but they’re both apples on the inside, just like people.'” Seek out opportunities to demonstrate your respect and appreciation for these contrasts. You might say, “Look at that girl. Aren’t her braids pretty?” or, “Did you hear that boy speak Italian to his grandma and then English to his friend? I wish I could speak more than one language.”

If your child asks something that makes you squirm, do your best to respond matter-of-factly. “We tend to avoid these questions,” says Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race. “But that doesn’t keep kids from noticing.”

Dr. Tatum recalls a mortifying moment when her then 4-year-old son pointed to a large woman and said loudly, “Mommy, why is that woman so fat?” “My first response was to say ‘Shhh!'” Dr. Tatum says. “Then I caught myself and told him, ‘People come in all sizes. Some people are big and some are little, some are tall and some are short.'”

Explain about Stereotypes and Racism

Kids already have certain biases about other cultures by age 5 or 6. Don’t be surprised if your child repeats something derogatory she heard at school.  When she does, let her know that while some people in a group may seem to fit a certain description it doesn’t mean everyone is that way, Costello says. That’s your cue to introduce the idea of discrimination: “Sometimes people decide that everyone with dark skin is mean or that people who aren’t white are bad. That’s wrong, and it makes me sad. It’s not fair to judge someone without knowing him or her.”

Bring up the stereotypes your child sees in movies and on TV. “If you turn the sound off on cartoon shows and ask who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy, kids know instantly by the way the characters appear,” Dr. Tatum says. The solution isn’t to stop watching but to point out the problems you see. For instance, you could watch The Little Mermaid, with its enormous villain, Ursula. Then say, “It’s a shame that overweight characters are depicted as evil. I know lots of nice people who are heavy.”

You should also be honest about the fact that discrimination still exists. “If you talk about past inequalities and then tell your child, ‘We’ve fixed that and we’re all equal now,’ it can actually encourage prejudicial beliefs because children will see remaining inequalities as the result of how hard people work,” says Erin Winkler, Ph.D., a diversity and racism expert at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. “Instead, talking honestly about systematic racial bias – like how wealth inequity is not a reflection of individual efforts, but rather tied to the legacy of discrimination – can help your child understand that these are not individual issues.”

Research bears this out. Dr. Bigler had elementary-school children read biographies of famous African Americans. One group’s stories included details about how the person had encountered forms of racial discrimination; the other group’s didn’t. Afterward, the kids whose books included the true historical context found the subjects more likable and sympathetic.

Lead by Example

For your child to become truly open-minded toward all people, you need to be a positive role model. In a study in Child Development, the lone factor shown to reduce children’s prejudice was whether their parents had a friend of another race. “If you say, ‘We should be friends with all kinds of people’ but the only ones who come over for dinner are those who look like you, what’s your child going to think?” Dr. Olson says.

Lots of parents talk a good game about embracing diversity, yet subtly communicate something very different. Do you laugh when you hear a joke about a racial group? Are you willing to point out intolerance when you see it? “We know that kids learn from what they see more than from what they hear,” Costello says.

Expose Your Child to Diversity Regularly

An analysis of more than 500 studies on prejudice published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the more contact people of all ages have with those from backgrounds that contrast with their own, the less likely they are to be biased.

Rebecca Anderson, a mom in Charlotte, North Carolina, chose a preschool for her son Zach where half the children had physical disabilities. “I believed that exposing him to special-needs kids would make him more accepting of all people,” she says. When it came time for kindergarten, she and her husband, who are white, decided to send Zach to a Spanish-immersion magnet school that was only about one-quarter white. Now in sixth grade, Zach is not only fluent in Spanish but comfortable around all kinds of people, Anderson says.

If you don’t have the option of enrolling your child in a diverse school, look for ethnically mixed sports leagues, libraries, and parks. Attend multicultural festivals. Bring home books that depict kids of various backgrounds. Show interest in other religions and cultures, and build friendships with people who don’t look like you. “If you want your child to become comfortable dealing with all types of people, you have to take her to places where she’s going to encounter them,” Costello says.

Julianne Weiner’s son Ben had already had that type of exposure. So before his first anxious day of preschool, she reminded him about the people he knew and liked who had brown skin. She pointed out that there are many shades of skin, even showing him that his hand is darker than his belly. “None of it seemed to register, and we were worried he’d say something that would offend his teacher,” Weiner says. “Instead, Ben had a great year, and that teacher became one of his favorites.”

Smart Answers to Tough Questions

Field cringe-worthy queries without flinching.

“Why is that man’s skin dark?”
“Skin contains something called melanin, which makes us different colors. Some people have more than others. We’re all part of a beautiful rainbow, aren’t we?”

“Why does that girl talk funny?”
“That’s called an accent. Her family came from a country where they speak another language.”

“Why is he in a wheelchair?”
“Some people’s legs don’t work, so they need a chair with wheels to get from place to place.”

“Why is that woman so fat?”
“People come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s what makes the world such an interesting place.”

“Why does that man wear a funny wrap on his head?”
“That’s called a turban. He wears it because it’s part of his religion, like other people may wear a cross.”

 

This article was written by Michelle Crouch from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

6 Winter Holiday Traditions from Around the World

download (9).png

Help your kids get a sense of life in other countries by introducing them to a variety of holiday rituals celebrated around the globe during this time of year.

Here are a few examples to get your crew exploring different cultures—maybe you’ll even create a new family tradition!

Ethiopia: Here, many families celebrate Christmas on January 7—though most people actually refer to the holiday as either Genna or Ganna, after a hockey-like game that is traditionally played on that afternoon.

The Netherlands: Children set out pairs of shoes on the eve of St. Nicholas Day, December 6. In the middle of the night, St. Nick pays a visit, filling the shoes with small treats such as chocolates, candies, and toys.

Italy: Kids write letters to their parents promising good behavior (and apologizing for recent misdeeds), as well as telling them how much they love them. The letters are then placed under Dad’s plate on Christmas Eve; he reads them all aloud once the meal is through.

Mexico: December 28, Day of the Holy Innocents, is celebrated much in the same way as April Fool’s Day. Children—and adults—play innocent pranks. If successful, the trickster gives his victim a candy treat.

Sweden: St. Lucia Day, December 13, is the beginning of the holiday season; one girl in each home dresses as Lucia, patron saint of light, in a white gown and a crown of leaves—and then wakes everyone by bringing a tray of breakfast treats.

Korea: Families celebrate January 1 by making Duk Gook—also spelled Ddeokguk—or rice-cake soup. According to tradition, enjoying a bowlful on New Year’s Day allows everyone to advance a year in age.

Conversation Starters

Use these talking points—provided by the experts at patheos.com, a site dedicated to world religions—to help your kids understand the meaning behind certain traditions.  

Why do people light candles each night of Hanukkah?

“We light them to remind ourselves of an ancient miracle that occurred after invaders of Israel tried to force the Jewish people to practice a different religion. When they refused, the invaders ransacked their temple, destroying almost everything. The Jews pushed them out, then hurried to restore the holy site. The first time they lit the oil lamp, there was only enough oil for one day. Yet to their surprise, it burned for eight days and nights.”

—Rabbi Keith Stern, leader of Temple Beth Avodah, in Newton, Massachusetts

Why does Kwanzaa last for seven days?

“Inspired by many African nations that hold weeklong harvest celebrations, Kwanzaa was created in the U.S. as an African-American holiday. It draws on these traditions in order to connect African Americans to their African heritage. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to a different principle (including unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith) to help us honor our family, community, and culture.”

—Anthea Butler, Ph.D., associate professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia

Why do people exchange Christmas gifts?

“Each year, Christians honor the birth of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago. Shortly after Jesus was born, Magi, often called the wise men, came from the East to Bethlehem and offered the infant gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. As part of the Christmas celebration, we give gifts too—to our friends, family, and the poor and hungry—as a way of remembering the gifts given to Jesus.”

—Rev. Emile R. “Mike” Boutin Jr., co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Walpole, Massachusetts

Start Your Own Family Traditions

1. Capture memories

You’ll probably make videos of the gift-giving frenzy anyway, so why not use your phone or camera to record interviews with your kids too? It’s a great way to document their changes from year to year. Try these questions for your annual “exclusive.”

  • What’s your favorite thing we did together as a family this year?
  • Who are your best friends? What do you like about them?
  • How is school this year? Which subject do you enjoy most and why?
  • What do you daydream about?
  • What’s the nicest thing a friend or someone in the family has done for you this year?

2. Lend a hand all year ’round

Volunteering during the holidays gets kids in the habit of helping those in need, but so many families do it that most charities see a huge surge in donations and participation each December—it’s every other time of the year that they need attention. Get your family to keep up the bighearted action in the off-season by…

  • volunteering one afternoon a month at a food bank. For locations, visit feedingamerica.org.
  • sponsoring an underprivileged child abroad. Check out savethechildren.org to make an ongoing impact on someone’s future.
  • asking a local nursing home’s volunteer coordinator about activities your family can help out with regularly, like craft sessions or reading hour.

 

 

Pause and Reflect

3. Pause and reflect

Give your family a chance to think during the holiday rush: During December, share a half-minute of silence each night at dinner. Tell the kids to focus on whatever they like—something good that happened that they’re grateful for, positive thoughts for a sick friend, a wish for the coming year. These moments together each day will help you feel more calm, connected, and appreciative of what you have the rest of the year too.

4. Steal these reader rituals

A unique tradition teaches kids that they’re part of something special—your family—and binds this holiday to future ones.

“One year, the day before Christmas, I was about to snap. So I threw food in a pack and told my family we were having a picnic. Though confused, they went along with it. We live in a mountain valley, so getting to a secluded spot was easy. The downside: It was so cold that the food froze! Our ‘Doomsday Picnic’ has become a tradition (we go better prepared now!). It’s a time to relax—we love it.” —Lynnette F. Harris; Millville, Utah

“Every year during the holidays our entire family sits down to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It makes us realize that we are not as dysfunctional as we might think!” —Betsy Gravalec; Marietta, Georgia

“To help our kids really understand the holiday, on Christmas morning we throw a birthday party—complete with cake—to celebrate Jesus’s birth. Sometimes the kids seem as excited about the balloons as they are about the gifts!” —Kelly Wilson Mason; Ohio

“Rather than giving gifts to all 17 family members, we each draw a name and then give the money we would have spent on Hanukkah gifts for everyone else as a donation to charity. Before opening presents, we all share what we did with the money to benefit someone less privileged than we are.” —Carol Hochman Dierksen; Orlando, Florida

“Every year, when the first snow falls I make ‘First Day of Snow’ fudge, just like my mom did. You could make it any time, but it just wouldn’t taste the same.” —Kris Wittenberg; Eagle, Colorado

 

This article was written by Jane Nussbaum from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Teaching History Through Your Child’s Interests

american-flag-in-planter-celebrating-4th-of-july_t20_xvwGEm.jpg

Parents who love history are often eager to pass this passion onto their children. Yet as any mom or dad knows, kids quickly develop interests and hobbies of their own and don’t always latch onto those of their parents. Rather than overwhelm them with dates and names and cultural trends and so forth, parents who want to teach history to their children may have better success integrating it into their interests.

It’s easier than you think. Consider the following popular interests among kids and how parents can use them to explain history:

Clothes and Jewelry

One of the quickest ways to distinguish one era from another is taking a look at what people were wearing. Whether it’s the drastic changes in clothing over the course of centuries or the way each decade seems to have its distinct apparel, hair and jewelry trends, the history of fashion functions against the backdrop of human history itself. Since many preteens and teenagers are concerned with fashion, parents can use it as a segue into a discussion about history.

For instance, antique jewelry spotted in a store window can start an on-the-spot conversation about how the human fascination with gold, silver, and gemstones has existed for thousands of years. The era in which the necklace comes from can offer clues as to the design quality and materials chosen, as well as speculation about what the first person who wore it was like, the life she lived, and why the necklace ended up on the market.

Video Games

Moms with only a passing understanding of video games probably think of them as fantasy escapism with few, if any, elements based on how things work in reality. While an increasing number of parents appreciate the puzzle solving aspects of video games due to growing up as gamers themselves, few realize the potential video games have for helping kids better understand history.

Consider the Assassin’s Creed series of video games, which we admit is a name that sounds like the exact opposite of what moms want their kids to be playing. However, that aside, these games are praised for their historically accurate depictions of cities such as Boston, New York, Paris, and Rome. Furthermore, the storylines always include important historical figures and events. While it’s still a video game and therefore ultimately bound by the need to provide exciting gameplay rather than history lessons, parents can use the Assassin’s Creed games to provide kids with context about the past in a way which brings it to life.

Movies

Who doesn’t love a good movie? While the definition of “good” varies from person to person, the most popular movies today revolve around time-tested franchises and characters which appeal to parents and kids alike. Due to their connection to movies and other stories originally produced in decades past, they offer an opportunity for parents to impart some history lessons to their kids.

Consider the contrasts and similarities between the Marvel superheroes depicted in today’s movies and how they were originally conceived as comic book characters in the mid-20th century. Movies, comic books, and other story-based entertainment are not made in a vacuum; they are a product of their times and this gives us clues about the past and how it measures up against the present. For instance, the tendency for female characters to be either sidelined or objectified in decades past can be compared to the way they are increasingly given more depth in today’s popular media. This is a reflection of positive changes in society over time.

If you’re a mom who loves history but struggles to make it interesting to your kids, consider ways to start the conversation through their interests. It’s easier than you think!

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Travel the Globe (Virtually)

Traveling is a great way to keep our little ones’ excitement with learning at an all-time high. Use a globe (any size) to decide where you will virtually travel. Each week, ask each of your children to spin the globe and place a finger somewhere on the globe to stop the spinning. Choose one of the countries where their fingers land as your destination.

twenty20_01294c0c-d1f9-4cda-b23b-1132d60b4964

Spend the beginning of the week with your children researching the different cultures, food and clothing found in this country. Talk about the temperatures there and the wild animals that you can find there. Discuss how your culture differs from theirs. At the end of the week, dress up in clothes that are native to that country and plan a meal that originated in that country.

Where will you and your little ones travel to?

World Knowledge Begins at an Early Age

The Goddard School

You may have heard the term ‘world schooling’ recently. World schooling uses travel to teach children about the planet and world cultures. As the use of technology increases, the world has become more interconnected, and one country’s problems can affect our personal lives.

An early educational experience should include a global perspective. At The Goddard School, we provide children with opportunities to learn about other cultures, develop a greater understanding of new ideas and increase compassion for people who may appear very different.

You don’t have to get on a plane with your preschooler to teach her about the world. Here are some ideas to help you share the world with your little one:

  • Cook some recipes from different countries each week;
  • Be open to the world around you, and share it with your children;
  • Learn new words from different languages as a family;
  • Visit museums, go to festivals and attend embassy events;
  • Follow child-friendly international news stories with your family;
  • Read stories about other cultures and families;
  • Listen to a variety of music from around the world, and learn foreign songs;
  • Make a craft based on one from another culture.