By Sadaf Afshan
Canada, as a country , takes immense pride in being a cultural mosaic rather than a cultural melting pot. The mosaic is based on the belief that Canada as a whole becomes stronger by having immigrants bring with them their cultural diversity for all Canadians to learn from. As part of this mosaic it’s important for our children to know and take pride in their roots so they can pass on their heritage to future generations.
Here are seven ways in which we can teach our kids about their heritage.
Speak your native language
Very often immigrant parents make the mistake of conversing only in English with their kids out of fear that their children will be confused or have speech delays which in turn will lead to problems at school. However, language experts say that it’s just a myth that introducing two languages simultaneously confuses children or leads to speech delays. On the contrary, bilingualism aids brain development.
Read about your country
Find books about your home country and read them together with your kids. Choose books that are illustrated as opposed to just text in order to keep them interested. You can also search together online to learn more about your country. It might be fun to make a scrapbook or art project about your country during vacation.
Prepare traditional foods
Your child may love his burgers and poutine but there’s no reason why he can’t enjoy his biryani or kebabs too. Introduce traditional foods during early childhood so that your children develop a taste for them alongside Canadian fare. Share stories about the dishes that you enjoyed as a kid. As they grow older share your family recipes with them and encourage them to cook with you.
Dress ethnic occasionally
On special occasions such as weddings or Eid, dress the kids in traditional clothes. Make sure that the clothes are comfortable so that they develop a liking for them.
Let kids interact with relatives
Grandparents, aunts or cousins will have lots of stories to tell the kids. Regular communication with relatives abroad is now possible by low-cost international calls or video chats.
Make a family tree
If you come from a large family, your children may have trouble remembering all their relatives. Create a family tree to help them know everyone. Not only is this a great way to learn, but it’s also a great way to decorate.
Travel to your homeland
If time or budget is not a constraint nothing beats the opportunity for your children to learn things first-hand by visiting the country of their ancestors. They can learn language, geography, customs and culture quickly during their stay in your country and will enjoy passing down stories of their journey to future generations.