Most parents want their children to grow up to be smart, successful, caring adults. Teaching the skills that contribute to these characteristics starts early on. You teach babies to share. You teach your toddler empathy. You teach your preschooler to respect others. You teach your kindergartner to read.
When skills like these are present and emphasized, a child grows up to flourish in these areas. You would never wait until your child is a teen to teach addition or listening skills, so why do so many schools wait so long to introduce foreign language classes and teach children about having a global mindset?
Experts argue that a global mindset and the ability to embrace diversity is more important than ever before. America continues to evolve as a melting pot of diversity. Every child in a modern elementary school class may have a different background that makes them unique. Your neighbors may not have been born in this country. Your friends may represent a rainbow of different ethnicities.
Your career is likely impacted, too. Technology has connected the world in profound ways. You're likely to work with people of every race, religion and background throughout your career. This is only going to increase as technology advances and our children grow up and begin their careers.
All things considered, waiting until adulthood to embrace a global mindset just seems ludicrous. The Huffington Post article "At what age can you teach a global mindset?" stresses that a young age is best to start this crucial education. In the article, authors of the book "Raising Global Children," Stacie Nevadomski Berdan and Marshall S. Berdan, are interviewed.
“Tomorrow’s college graduates are just as likely to compete for jobs in and with people from as far away as Beijing, Buenos Aires, and Bangalore as they are from Boston or Boise,” the Berdans say in the article. “But the ability to work across cultures is no longer a nice-to-have skill set for elite executives; every year it becomes more essential to finding any job at all.”
Knowing this, teaching a global mindset should be present as early as possible. Teachers can lead the way by infusing cultural diversity into the classroom in many ways. Celebrate different holidays, talk about cultural traditions and invite guests to come in and speak about their backgrounds. Curious kids will delight in this learning and it will help them to become global citizens.
Parents who want more emphasis on teaching a global mindset in their child's classroom should speak to the teacher, PTO/PTA and principal. Express your concerns and offer to help. Maybe you can be a parent presenter as part of the curriculum, or help to bring a world language program to your school.
To support your child's growth in this area or to fill gaps, you may want to consider extracurricular activities. Language Stars is a great example. Classes are taught by native-speaking teachers to children from 1 to 12 years old in six different languages. These fun classes not only help kids become multilingual, but also help them to gain that critical global mindset that is so important today.