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One of the great things about going travelling with a family is that you are exposing them to new and different approaches to living. If you are just starting out on the journey of taking your children on holiday, and they are at the right age that they can get more out of experiences abroad, it can be a shock to the system at the outset. Taking your children to a country that has a different culture, or way of living, is part of the holiday experience. And we can tend to reign it in somewhat and stay within our confines, especially when we’re on a budget. But the exciting thing about taking your children abroad is that you are exposing them to different cultures and ways of being. And while this is taking them out of their comfort zone, we can find little methods to ensure that they benefit from the different cultures, but also immerse themselves effectively. How can we do this?
Start Way Before Travelling
If you want to get your children into the rhythm of a certain culture, firstly you need to get them to understand why they need a passport. You can help them to make their own passports, by using stickers and glue. And then, as you start to show them different cultures and countries, you can start to stamp the pages of the passport. This gives them a feeling of achievement. But it also helps you to give them a background on countries that you want to go to. If you plan on going around Britain at some point you may want to show them typical British things that you may not necessarily do at home. Preparation is always key. And this will help to demystify the entire process.
Preparing For The Climate
Part of going to other countries is about experiencing the (adverse) weather. And when our children are only just about grasping the concepts of weather and the seasons, during this process upside-down by introducing them to what the weather is like in Australia today can blow their tiny little mind! It’s not just about the seasons, but it’s about what people are experiencing right now. You can easily go online and find a typical weather report for Zimbabwe, New Zealand or South America and this will gradually pique their interest and can get them to think about where they would like to go based on the weather they enjoy. If they love messing around in the snow, but there’s no sign of any snow in the near future, perhaps you would like to take them to Norway?
Cook The Food
Food is integral to every single culture. And if you, as a household, are used to the same meals every single day, get your children involved in other approaches to cuisine. If you are hoping to go to Japan, getting your children to make sushi rolls in the kitchen is a fantastic also will make them appreciate the amount of work that goes into preparing this. Making sushi is an ancient art that sushi chefs spend years training in. Look at other countries with the food that’s similar to what you eat. Naturally, America isn’t that different, and we spend a lot of time with westernised foods anyway but if you are going to America on your travels perhaps you want to delve a little bit further into the various subcultures. Italian Americans, for example, make fantastic pasta dishes, and this goes beyond the typical Spaghetti Bolognese that you probably eat at home.
Another way to interact with the culture of a country is to experience their sartorial styles. If you are learning about Islamic countries, you can make Muslim clothing. You can then use this as a springboard to make other components such as pottery, beads, or even origami. These are all things that are fantastic activities for your children to achieve, but it’s another method to get them to understand that clothes and jewellery aren’t just of a certain type, especially if you are very modest in your jewellery tastes! Show them how colourful other fashions can be!
Celebrating The Holidays And Traditions
In the western world we are so used to the typical bank holidays, as well as Christmas, that we can forget about Chinese New Year, Diwali, and all of the holidays that other cultures celebrate in every other part of the world. Keep a calendar of these holidays and traditions, and begin to teach your child about the history of them. It’s a great way to observe different traditions, and when it comes to something like Eid, that marks the end of Ramadan, getting your children involved by participating in the local celebrations is a fantastic approach. Of course, when it comes to something like Ramadan, where Muslims fast during daylight hours, we have to exercise some caution, especially for our children. But if your children are old enough, and have an interest in it, who are you to discourage them? The great thing about every holiday in other cultures gives an insight into how people celebrate as well.
Studying The Cultural Etiquette
Possibly one of the most important aspects of travelling to a foreign country is understanding that what we do at home may not be appropriate somewhere else. Learning about another culture’s etiquette is not just a good idea for your children, but for you as well! When you start to realise that pointing your feet in Thailand is gravely offensive, it can be incredibly enlightening. While it may be intimidating somewhat, especially for a young child, the trick is about practising these rules of etiquette before you go. It all depends on the age of your child common but also so when there are specific rules of etiquette that a broken, you’ve got to research whether it is a punishable offence. Practising the rules of etiquette is crucial, but you’ve got exercise some due diligence as their parent.
Learning The Language
Something that you can both do together. Learning the language is probably going to be easier for the children. And this may mean that they will have to lead you somewhat, but as part of going to another country, it’s common courtesy to try, at the very least, a handful of sentences. And when we go to another country, this is the one thing that can open a snap to a lot more experiences. Learning the language is something that you can do in the run-up. And because of apps like Duolingo, it’s never been easier to learn crucial sentences, but also delve deeper into how people speak. Learning a language is going to be easier for kids because they retain information so much better. But when you are exploring other cultures of the world, try and figure out the language as well as basic words, and try to teach your child both forms, written and spoken. You may not want to bother with written words, but when you are trying to get by in the country, or you’ve lost your way, a handful of key sentences will be a big help. It can feel a bit embarrassing to be that person with a manual in front of them, but also, you may very well miss out on everything around you. Learn some of the things that you think you will need, and then try for an extra 15%! And if you learn the language with your kids, they will pick up on things that you may necessarily not.
Taking your children into a different culture is a fantastic way to get them involved with life. But if this is their first excursion, it’s worth trying a few of these methods to get them used to it.