Living in a country that is different than the place of your cultural heritage can prove challenging when it comes to teaching your heritage to your children. From one generation to the next, passing down of your heritage can get lost, and once it’s gone it can be difficult to regain.
Here are five tips to teach your heritage to your children:
Expose Children to Relatives from Their Culture
Whether in person, on the phone or over the internet, keeping in touch with relatives near and far will create a personal connection between your child and family from the same background. Hearing relatives speak in the language of your culture also exposes children to the tones, dialects, mannerisms and meaning of the words within the language.
Learn the LanguageIf you’re fluent in your native language, make sure to speak to your children in that language early on. Young children are like sponges and can easily learn languages. Studies have shown that learning a second language does not necessarily impair the learning of the dominant language (i.e. English in America). In fact, bilingual children tend to perform better academically in their school careers. If you’re not fluent, look into language schools, or if none are locally available, search for online programs geared towards children.
Celebrating traditional holidays are a fun way to teach your heritage to your children. Discuss the meanings behind the holidays and embrace everything that comes along with them – festive decorations, delicious foods, customary clothes and other traditions.
Set up activities for your kids related to your culture. Make traditional arts and crafts – library book or the internet are good sources for ideas and instructions. Set up play dates with children of similar backgrounds, and bring your children to local classes or festivals that relate to your heritage. Play music and show them dance performances from the culture. Don’t forget to cook or go to restaurants that have traditional foods…always a fun and yummy way to expose children to their heritage!
Teach Basic Information
Teach your children the basics of their background. Let them know the name of country, what language is spoken, where on globe the country is located, what the flag looks like, etc. Find a children’s library book about the country or look online for kid-friendly websites that can teach them about the country.
Have more tips? Mention them in the comments below!
Check out Trilingual Mama’s post “Turning the hearts of children towards their ancestors and heritage.”