5 Ways to Immerse Your Kids in Culture
In an effort to keep up with the Jones', I spend time thinking about how to give my kid the tools he will need to succeed and stand out. Basically, what can I do for my kid to make him better than the next kid (i.e. your kid)? It isn't enough to teach him the ABC's. To make macaroni pictures. To color in the lines. I need more! He needs more.
Growing up in a small town in the suburbs of American where both my husband and I share similar family backgrounds and don't travel much leaves a lack of cultural experience in our home. Finding an affordable and time conscience way to bring some culture into my little man's life led me to these 5 ways to bring more culture into my home.
Duh, right? Pinterest has a ton of recipes, crafts and stories from other countries and cultures that you can easily Pin and incorporate into the daily things you were going to do anyway ; like make dinner. You can devote each week to a new country and choose a few things to try and experience from that country throughout the week. The age of your kids will depend on how involved they get with activity. For older kids, ask them to help prepare the meal or Pin the meal at the very least. Super moms might get their kids to share different aspects of the country over dinner. For the little ones, a craft would be good because they can look back on it and remember it and what country it originated from. Bonus points for getting them to associate the craft with facts that you repeat each time you view the craft.
Additional Fees: Varies based on activity
Try The World
There is nothing like learning about another country through authentic food. Try The World is a subscription service that delivers a box of cultural yummies to your door each month. In your box, you get 7-8 items that are country specific, facts about each item and recipes. You can also check out their social pages and blog for recipes from other subscribers. If you fall in love with an item or don't want to commit to the subscription, you can opt to purchase these specialty items individually. This subscription would probably be best for older kids and adults as the little ones might night fully understand what they are getting but really, anyone would enjoy this delicious experience.
Cost: Varies based on plan. Try The World offers 3 subscription plans. You can choose to pay monthly at $39 a month, $198 every 6 months ($33/month), or $348 yearly ($29 a month). Shipping is included in these prices.
Additional Fees: Optional. You can choose to add items to your order in the Shop.
Another subscription, but this one is geared toward younger kids. It recommends beginning at age 3 and has packages recommended to age 12. From ages 3-5, the Little Passports package comes with products that cover topics about different countries that younger kids would be interested in; like animals, dinosaurs, and habitats. The kids receive stickers, souvenirs and games to play. At ages 6-10, the kids graduate from Early Explorers to the World Edition and there is more information about the countries specifically. They keep it fun with photos, souvenirs, and stickers for your "passport". The kids will also have access to online games. Ages 7-12 can participate in the USA Edition. As you can imagine, it is similar to the world addition, but all about America.
Cost: Varies based on plan. Depending on the plan and payments you chose, you are looking at a price range of $11.95/monthly-$17.95 monthly.
Additional Fees: Shipping. There is an additional $3 monthly for shipping. You can also choose to add toys and kits in the shop.
The Au Pair Program
This program is a cultural exchange with a young adult from another country. You both commit to living together, in your home, for a year (with the option to extend for up to an additional year). In exchange for room and board and a minimal weekly stipended (average $197.95), the Au Pair provides child care, light housekeeping, and meal prep on a flexible schedule for 45 hours a week. You can pick the country and even pick a language! This is a super cultural immersion experience as the Au Pair would be sharing their traditional meals from their country, crafts, games, and stories.
Cost: Varies based on agency and payment options. Some agencies offer free registration so you can view and interview Au Pairs before you commit to anything. You are looking at roughly $360 a month when you add in the agency fee and weekly stipend.
Additional Fees: You will need to provide additional food for the Au Pair, but not necessarily things that you wouldn't buy for your family anyway. There is also a $500 educational allowance for the year.
Attending Cultural Events
You might not even be aware of all of the cultural events that are going on in your community. Some events are dedicated to a specific cultural group and some are for a variety of cultures. You can attend these events even if it is not your particular heritage. You will get to sample their culture-specific cuisine, listen to their music and get a sense of what they're proud of. My family and I attend the International Spring Festival every year and we get a taste of many different cultures. People from different cultures bring their traditional clothing, crafts, food and information about their culture to share with the community. Groups sing cultural songs and dance. This is a special event, as so many are represented, but not unique. There are events like this all over the country.
Cost: Varies based on event.
Additional Fees: Plan on spending money to get a taste of the food and bring home something from the event.