While learning history may automatically leave you yawning, there is no reason to pass this bias against the subject along to your preschooler. Teach her at a young age that history can be interesting and meaningful, especially in the context of your family’s heritage. Family stories and history not only provide her with a fascinating bedtime story, but also teach her about the history of the people who came before her. A child who understands her heritage feels connected to others who have similar beliefs and backgrounds. As she grows older, she will also be able to share her unique heritage with friends as she tells them about how special her family truly is.
It is worth taking the time and effort to teach your youngster about your family’s history. Not only does this provide a distraction from mindless cartoons and television, it also serves an educational purpose for your child. A youngster who learns that everyone comes from a different background and is special in his own way is more likely to be tolerant and accepting as the years pass. Instead of wondering why someone in his preschool class dresses differently or eats different foods than he does, he will begin to realize that the melting pot around him is something to celebrate and accept, rather than fear and avoid.
Brush up on your language skills and use a language, other than English, that may be familiar to your relatives. If your mother-in-law is Hispanic, for example, thrill her by speaking Spanish with your young child. According to the Zero to Three website, consistency is an important aspect of raising a bilingual child. You either need to speak one language in the home and another out of the home, or only speak Spanish at Auntie Sarah’s and Uncle Charlie’s home. Even if you aren’t bilingual yourself, try to incorporate simple vocabulary words like “rojo,” or red, into your child’s routine. Doing so not only helps your child master a second language, but also teaches her about your family’s heritage and culture.
Don’t just use Grandpa and Grandma for free childcare. Instead, allow them to teach your toddler about his cultural heritage. Often, the older generation is more familiar with religious, cultural or ethnic beliefs of your family. Use this to your advantage; invite them to cuddle up with your youngster and ask them to share the oral stores of what life was like when they were young. Remind Grandpa and Grandma to keep the stories short, since most 3 year olds won’t sit still long enough to hear an hour-long story about walking to school through miles and miles of snow.
Children’s books aren’t only for teaching your youngster crucial literacy skills — they can also serve as an excellent avenue for teaching about your family’s heritage. Even if the words in the book are too hard for your toddler to read along with you, choose one that represents your family’s history in a way that is still engaging and appropriate for your preschooler. Avoid bulky chapter books, and choose one with photographs or accurate illustrations of your religious, cultural or ethnic background. Read them with your child and talk about what life was like “way back when.”