Raising a Globally Minded Child

As our world exponentially grows more interconnected and multicultural than ever, it is important that children are raised with an open mind. Depending on where you live and how far you are from a city center, the need to diversify your mindset may not always be at the forefront of your mind, but it can be eye opening just the same. For parents, having a globally minded child can spell success. Not only can it open them up to new concepts and ideas, but it can also help them empathize and connect with others on a more personal level as well.

Becoming more globally aware is beneficial for people of all ages, however some people may not realize just how important world events, world views, and even social interaction and cultural practices can have on their lives.

According to Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, an international careers expert, globally minded children are curious, open-minded and aware of the world around them. This can help open doors to better learning, more effective critical thinking, wider socialization, and a deeper understanding for different kinds of people no matter where they’re from. “Children need to be appreciative and understand each other and not be afraid of each other,” Berdan adds.

Additionally, according to the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages, a survey found that 98% of parents believe that children should learn a second language, as early as possible, 69% agreed that being proficient in a second language is important to a successful career today, 83% percent agreed it would be important in 5 years and 84% percent agreed that having a global mindset is important to careers today.

Evidently, one of the most common ways of raising a globally minded child is to learn a foreign language. If a parent, guardian, or family member speaks another language, or if you are originally from another country with a national language other than English, it is highly recommended that children grow up bilingual. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, kids who are bilingual experience more positive effects on their intellectual growth, are more flexible thinkers, are sensitive to language and different modes of understanding, while also opening the door to other cultures and even more job opportunities.

Traveling is also a great way to expose your child to different things. Whether you can travel to another country or are only able to make it to a more diverse metropolitan area, introducing your kids to different cultural activities, history, cuisine and other things can help to open their minds and inspire their curiosity. Exposing children to diverse cultures from an early age can be incredibly beneficial and it can open their minds up as they grow older, leaving little room for prejudice or preemptive judgment since they will be more familiar with lifestyles and customs that are different from their own.

Reading is another great way to promote exposure, especially if you are unable to travel. Reading allows you to explore and discover other places, cultures, and languages from the comfort of your own home. For children, however, this can be extra beneficial since it can help inspire a more general love of reading and learning as well. But books are special for other reasons, too. Books, especially fiction, can place kids in someone else’s shoes, allowing them not only the opportunity for exposure, but providing them with a more intimate glimpse into the life and culture of someone else.

Getting involved with your own community is important, too. Thinking big also demands that you think on a smaller scale as well. Exposing your child to compassion, community, and caring on all different levels can help groom them to become more open-minded and considerate individuals, as they get older. For children to be globally minded, it starts with the parents in the home. Look at all the ways in which you can learn and improve, yourself, and find ways to experience new things as a family. Not only will you be learning together, but you will all be growing together as well.

How Learning Languages Can Benefit Young Brains

Bilingual Kids

Being bilingual looks great on a resume these days. If you are proficient in more than one language, you become more marketable as an employee and more doors open up for you depending on what business you are looking to go into once you enter the job market. This is often the pitch given to parents and prospective foreign language students in American schools, but this sort of education is provided much later on than in many other parts of the world. For that reason, many American children fail to completely attain any useful level proficiency within the language they study (unless personally motivated), unlike children from elsewhere in the world. Teaching children multiple languages from the get-go is much more likely to make an impact and really stick. Not only that, but learning languages early on also yields a broad range of cognitive benefits that can help children as they grow and develop.

Children in other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia, begin learning a second language at the pre-k or kindergarten level, sometimes adding on a third or fourth language later on. The American school system, however, does not tend to implement or even introduce foreign language education until sixth or seventh grade when children are already twelve or thirteen. By this time, a child’s brain is less impressionable in terms of language, and studying another tongue can be increasingly difficult if introduced after puberty. While many schools in America do not offer language classes as part of their curriculum until the middle grades, that does not mean that you have to wait to teach your child a new language.

If you want to teach your child a new language, you can begin teaching them from the moment they are born if you want to, but you can wait until they are in pre-k or kindergarten as well. If you or your child’s other parent happen to be bilingual you can be beneficial, however, you can ask others for help such as family members or friends and you can even employ children’s books and programs that they can listen to and take part in as they learn to communicate by using language.

There have been many studies conducted on the effects that languages have on children. Results have proven that kids who learn more than one language tend to do better in a variety of subjects including reading and science, perform better on standardized tests and exhibit more advanced problem-solving and spatial abilities. Additionally, some other studies have shown that learning a second language can help prevent senility and extend your lifespan as well. The reason why it is better for children to begin learning a new language when they are younger versus adolescence or even young adulthood is because they are much more likely to gain proficiency.

There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate multiple languages into a child’s life, and if they learn more than one language while they are first learning to speak, they are more likely to grasp the rules of the language much more naturally as well as be able to pronounce letters and sounds not found in English. Even if you only speak English, you can take this as an opportunity to learn a new language alongside your child. Who knows, they may be able to teach you a thing or two themselves!

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