If your eyes light up when you talk at dinner about your dreams to travel the world, or you speak with passion about current global events, your children will take note, says Dr. Reimers.
From the Chinese New Year (on January 23 in 2012) to Italy's Feast of San Gennaro (celebrated each September), the United States is packed with ethnic celebrations that welcome the general public, says Manise. "Having a chance to see arts and crafts and hear folktales, music, and language is a wonderful experience for the entire family."
"One of the unique aspects of American culture is that almost all of us came from somewhere else," says Manise. Talking about your children's background and your family's journey to the United States helps kids connect to the concept of a larger world community.
If you haven't already, update your playlists to include music from around the world and watch international pop music on YouTube with your kids. "As kids become accustomed to musical diversity they adjust naturally to the various sounds, which in turn makes those sounds feel less 'foreign,'" says Homa Sabet Tavangar, a global-business and education expert and mom of three daughters. She wrote her book, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, as a way for families to incorporate an international outlook into their daily life.
Tavangar suggests picking a team to follow based on your heritage, your child's friend's heritage, your family's favorite type of food, or the language you want to learn to speak. The F?d?ration Internationale de Football Association website (fifa.com) includes an interactive world map to help you learn about all the teams and member countries.
Place an up-to-date world map on a wall near the kitchen table or another heavily trafficked part of your home. Some families mount a map on corkboard and put different-colored pushpins in the countries where they (and friends and relatives) have visited. And when you're shopping for holiday and birthday gifts, don't forget about globes and atlases.
Kids' picture books and coffee-table books such as Peter Menzel's riveting Material World: A Global Family Portrait can bring diverse circumstances and emotions to life for all ages. Consider children's books including How I Learned Geography, by Uri Shulevitz; Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, about Korean customs; and Beatrice's Goat, set in Uganda, by Paige McBrier.
When you can move beyond the princess and Star Wars themes, try ones from global celebrations including Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo, Earth Day, Chinese New Year, the World Cup, and Olympic Games, suggests Tavangar.
"A 3-year-old can have a warm croissant and see the 'star' of The Red Balloon travel through Paris," says Tavangar. A 7-year-old can watch The Cave of the Yellow Dog, from Mongolia. Other classics include Japan's My Neighbor Totoro and The Secret of Roan Inish, from Ireland. Tavangar recommends renting subtitled movies instead of dubbed versions, if possible. "Read the movie to them as you would a book," she says. "That way they are also hearing the language."
Originally published in the December 2011 issue of Parents magazine.