As parents we understand that it takes more than reading, writing and arithmetic to raise children who will not just succeed, but thrive in life. The lessons learned in school help them become educated and socialized to become a productive member of society. Then there are the life lessons we instill within the comfort of our own walls. But what about the bigger picture? How do we raise our children to be students of life and the world? Isn’t it also our job to raise children who want to do better, be better and make a difference? How do we guide our children into becoming global citizens?
Much of the lessons in becoming a good global citizen lies in proper guidance, not instruction. Help your children become the best possible versions of themselves through daily encouragement and practice. Here are a few things that you can easily implement within your home to get started.
Start the Discussion
While it’s true children learn through osmosis (watching and taking in the behaviors and habits of those they are surrounded by), it is not always understood why you do the things you do. If you give your time or money, have conversations with your children not only about what you are doing, which they see, but also why you do it. For example, if you “pay it forward” in the drive thru line at Starbucks, it’s worth noting to your child that the act was not because the other customer didn’t have money to do it themselves, but, instead, an attempt to make someone’s day just a little brighter. This helps build the mentality of compassion and caring that leads to acts of giving.
Create Global Connections Locally
Whether helping your child identify volunteer opportunities that make a global impact via websites like VolunteerMatch, sponsoring a foreign exchange student or adopting a refugee family through an organization like ReWA, offering an opportunity for your child to see the world through another’s eyes helps connect your child to life outside his bubble. The more children are able to experience and connect with the world, the more global his outlook will become.
Experiencing the world is a big part of creating global awareness, compassion and connections. A story hits closer to home if a personal experience can be associated with it. Young children may not remember every detail of a trip, but the impact of these continued life experiences will help shape and mold their global mentality. Help children gain a personal connection to your trip by engaging them in activities, like puzzles and trivia about the new culture they will experience. Busy Teacher’s Word Puzzles are a great resource with free customizable (and printable) word search puzzles. Prepare children ahead of time by watching relevant movies and reading books about the areas you’ll be visiting. During your travels, you can use Crooked Trails to help find some opportunities to get involved wherever you go.
Empower your Children
Children have natural compassion, as they grow we can help them feel empowered to take action and make a difference, rather than sitting idly by. It is important to teach children that giving back can be done through both money and time. Establish volunteer hour goals each year and teach your child to proactively set aside money that will allow them to act on their compassions. Moonjar, a physical paper piggy bank, is a great tool for children to use to start growing their giving back funds and use their own resources to make a difference. After they’ve saved a bit, allow your children to determine which charity they’d like to give to.
Children can also lead their own giving opportunities. With only a little support from adults, they can collect donations of school supplies, gently used clothing, books and toys to donate to local schools, hospitals and groups in need. They can also clean up parks after local events and help at animal shelters. To find a list of local places that are in need, contact your school guidance counselor, religious community or through one of the sites listed here.
This post was co-written by SocialMonsters and JMP Media.
© 2016, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.