Nurturing Cultural Awareness in Early Childhood

Nurturing Cultural Awareness in Early Childhood 

India is a country that is well known for its diversity. We have a huge range of landforms and climatic conditions, numerous religions, countless deities, several festivals, innumerable languages, varying cuisines and so much more. As countries go, no other can match the beauty and diversity we have in our very own country.

With increasing globalization, our children are getting a lot of exposure to other cultures. In today’s world, it is necessary to have a global mindset to become  global citizens. At the same time, it is equally important for children to fully appreciate our country, culture, and heritage. As parents and teachers, we need to nurture cultural awareness for kids and this can begin right from the early childhood years. Participating in a cultural awareness program is also essential for various areas of development like cognitive, language, social, emotional, communication, and fine and gross motor skills in early childhood education.

What is cultural awareness?

We know that each person is different depending on their upbringing and background. Putting this concept on a larger scale, we also see people from different states, communities, or countries also differ from each other. It may be in the festivals they celebrate, their religious beliefs, the type of foods eaten, how they dress, the language spoken, and so on. Amidst these differences there are also many similarities for example Hindi is spoken all over India, Christmas is celebrated in many countries all over the world, and each community has its version of a harvest festival. Other examples are Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Baisakhi, Onam, and Pongal are celebrated around the same time in different parts of India.

So, to better understand what is cultural awareness and how to teach the same to our children, we need to first answer the question:

How do we become more culturally aware?

The communication gap and lack of cultural awareness are some of the factors that contribute to misunderstanding on both sides. We can all improve our communication skills and cultural awareness by being respectful of other cultures when working with and connecting with others. Everyone forms stereotypes, whether based on specific experiences or their own set of views, identifying those stereotypes and addressing any subconscious or explicit bias is essential for becoming a stronger and more inclusive person.

Being culturally aware improves our interpersonal abilities, as we become more sensitive to other people’s feelings, making communication more successful. Finding common ground and getting to know people on a personal level is essential.

Learning as much as possible about different cultures

We naturally perceive the world through a distorted filter generated by our subconscious and strongly held values and beliefs. This results in insensitivity and, potentially, inadvertent blindness to the values that individuals of other cultures hold important.

This is why we need to expose ourselves, observe, and interact with the cultures around us. Participating in cultural festivals and events is one of the most authentic methods to learn about foreign cultures. Here, you may observe how various people express themselves through music, food, and art.

Cultural awareness is the knowledge, understanding, and respecting the differences and similarities between two or more cultures, especially when interacting and communicating with each other.

Being mindful is the key to cultural awareness. Here are a few ways to foster cultural sensitivity in your child.

  1. Learning other languages –
  2. there are lots of different Indian languages and young children can learn new languages very quickly and easily. Whether you choose to send your child for language classes or to a neighbour next door is your choice. In their quest to learn a new language, your child will also get to learn about that particular culture and how they live their lives. This will give your child some insight and a better understanding of that culture. Learning other languages increases the child’s language development.

  3. Sharing stories –
  4. Stories are fun to listen to and are packed with useful information. When children share stories with their friends or listen to different stories at a family gathering, they get to hear things from a different perspective, they even begin to see the differences in villages and cities. One major eye-opener is the differences across generations, especially when they hear about the pre-computer era of grandparents, the life of parents when simple computers were first introduced, and now in the computer era wherein computers are a vital part of our lives. Exposing our children to such stories leads to empathy and helps break down barriers. Listening and talking help build the child’s communication skills as well.

  5. Try out different cuisines at home
  6. – food is the gateway to any culture. The traditional thalies from different regions come with an array of dishes, many of which are fairly simple to make. Getting the children to help is a wonderful way to make them feel involved and connected and they may even be open to trying unfamiliar foods. Whether you make it at home or order in, trying authentic food from different places in India will get your child out of their food-based comfort zone and will widen their culinary horizons. Doing things together as a family helps build and strengthen bonds and enhances your child’s emotional development.

  7. Participate in festivals other than your own
  8. – Festivals are filled with meaning, vibrancy, and sentiments. There are lots of traditions and customs followed by various communities and each has a meaning and reason behind it. Participating in a festival is the quickest and the most fun way to learn about it, for example Makar Sankranti is a festival in which you eat laddoos made out of sesame seeds rich in calcium while flying kites in the sun to get a good dose of vitamin D which is in turn is good for the absorption of calcium and development of bones. Celebrating festivals as a community also helps in the social development of the child.

  9. Actively celebrate and embrace your own culture –
  10. while it is necessary to understand and be sensitive to the other cultures around us it is equally important for us to understand our own culture. In doing so makes us more aware of who we are and where we come from. It keeps us connected to our families and gives us some meaningful traditions and memories to pass on from generation to generation. So, whether you’re in your own country or somewhere abroad, our culture helps us stay connected to our roots and gives meaning to who we are and where we have come from apart from assisting in your child’s cognitive development.

Final Thoughts

The next time you’re planning a trip in India or abroad, do read up on that place, make yourself culturally aware, and if possible look for opportunities to participate in or observe certain events, and try out the local cuisine or delicacies.  It will make your holiday more meaningful and special while providing you with lots of memories.

At Eurokids, we embrace cultural diversity and look for opportunities to bring about cultural awareness in preschool children. Our centers promote a culturally rich and diverse environment where children can freely talk about their cultures and traditions. Eurokids also celebrate many festivals and children are told about the importance and significance of each.

For informative and accurate articles on all things related to your new born-toddler’s development, growth, health and nutrition, follow EuroKids Blogs and do check out our nationally recognized preschools – EuroKids for the first step in your kid’s educational journey! – after references, in the bottom of the article

About Us

EuroKids is recognized as India’s most respected early childhood education brand, with over 21 years of experience, and has a presence in 350+ cities & 3 countries. The journey began in 2001 with 2 preschools and since then the group has consistently raised the bar for preschool education through its innovative and mindful curriculum – EUNOIA, which helps children grow holistically in a home-like environment.

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