Raising children with a global appreciation

(ARA) – Families today tell many different stories. Each is comprised of different cultures, ancestry and heritage and because of this; many parents today want their children to celebrate their heritage and to grow up with a natural appreciation for different cultures. But for an infant or toddler, how does a parent open the door to understanding how groups of people who are different, are also very much alike in many very important ways?

According to Dr. Karen Hill Scott, renowned child development expert, there are many ways to develop a positive awareness of culture. ‘We show our children pictures of family members, we sing songs, and share toys that babies enjoy. Incorporating similar content from other cultures will also be fun for baby,’ she explains. Dr. Hill Scott recommends beginning with baby’s natural interests–listening to music, handling toys and clothing, and looking at pictures of people and places.

To help parents introduce their children to different cultures and to develop an appreciation for the world, Dr. Hill Scott shares the following tips.

Music Time
From Africa to Australia, music is a universal language, a common thread that ties us all together. Incorporate music from around the world into daily activities by introducing your baby to the sound of different languages, rhythms and instruments from around the globe. Whether you are putting away toys, rocking baby to sleep or even running errands, try playing a CD that exposes your little one to acoustically diverse cultural experiences specially created for a baby’s ears. Baby Einstein’s World Music CD introduces several different kinds of baby-friendly songs that incorporate culturally inspired instruments, such as bells, drums, wooden flutes or rain stick, that engage, delight, and capture a baby’s attention.

Singing and Language Time
The foundation of human language is expressed in communication by making sounds and inflections that precede actual words. Even when words are used, moms typically express themselves in a language style called ‘motherese’ or ‘mom speak’ that babies seem to love. Introduce your baby to a variety of musical sounds from around the world — this can make listening time more creative and interactive because you can sing new songs to your baby from a variety of cultures. If you’re a bit inhibited about singing, think of it as talking to music. Your baby wants to hear your voice and will delight in your playfulness. Whether it’s a baby coo or a smile, it’s such a warm feeling to receive a dose of your infant’s special ‘mommy and me’ conversation.

Aside from eating and sleeping, baby’s most important activities are watching, listening, and playing with you. To expand on this foundation, surround your baby’s world with symbols of other cultures, such as small baby dolls with different skin colors, facial features, and hair textures. You can use textured fabrics from another culture as blanket toppers when your baby is playing on the floor. And you can bring the real world images to babies by sharing books and the Baby Einstein’s World Music DVD with them. The pictures are beautiful and the music is orchestrated so it provides baby with a very pleasurable listening experience. When you watch the DVD with your baby you can express your own appreciation for the beauty found in other cultures. Your tone of voice will let baby know how wonderful it is to see what other babies see and hear in other parts of the world.

Dancing and Exercise Time
Babies enter the world making their own sounds and movement and as they grow, they not only become more mobile, but they naturally become more explorative and curious. To encourage body movement use a CD that features global sites and sounds. With diverse sounds and rhythms from a variety of cultures, you and baby can march, tap, sway or simply step around to make a dance.