'The beauty of being different': how to raise a global child
In today’s interconnected world, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to prepare them to thrive in the global community by sparking and feeding their curiosity.
But what does that mean? Well, we must inspire our children to be curious about the world and to become globally aware. We must teach our children to appreciate, communicate, respect and interact with people across different cultures and in other countries.
That’s easily said, but how do we actually make that happen? How do we give our kids the tools to make their own way in our global community?
One way in which we give our children the best possible start in life is to enrol them in a preschool that has a curriculum that encourages curiosity and will allow children to continue their education anywhere in the world if their parents move.
The International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) is a child-centred curriculum for 2-5 year olds that recognises the developmental needs of early years education and emphasises playful, holistic and child-focused approaches to learning and development.
At Futuraskolan preschools the IEYC is given an international twist by teachers such as Luca Nicolo, originally from Italy, who works at the Gåshaga preschool.
“We like to emphasise the interconnectedness of our world, so we help our children make the connections,” says Luca. “We teach that our connections with others should be built on respect for others. Others’ cultures, traditions and things that are different. We emphasise the beauty of being different instead of everything being the same as what we see out of our windows. We give kids the tools to find out about the rest of the world around them and how fascinating it can be. But we also always emphasise the importance of our roots.”
Rachelle Colldahl, is a Californian who now lives in Stockholm, and whose 4-year-old son attends the Futuraskolan International Gåshaga. She explains the nuts and bolts of how the teachers at Gåshaga encourage the students to be curious.
“Before my son even started at the preschool he was asked by the teachers to create, and bring to school, something that represents the country he’s from. Well, I’m American, and my husband is half-Swedish, half-British so we made three things for the school.”
“I also really like the fact that the school has a diverse menu, such as falafels and other international foods. And when a particular country has a special holiday they’ll serve that country’s cuisine. And they’ll encourage the kids to talk about it.”
This focus on the “beauty of the other” and interconnectedness has paid dividends already as far as Rachelle is concerned.
“We want our son to learn different languages, so we're very happy that Futuraskolan teaches him Swedish. He’s already learning other languages, small words from other countries, just from his friends at preschool. That's really exciting to me, whether it be French, Spanish, or Arabic, he knows a few words from each.”
As Luca says, this international approach is deeply embedded within Futuraskolan’s DNA. “From the beginning, we read fairy tales not just in English or Swedish, but in the languages of some of the other children - maybe some in Spanish, Italian or Arabic. So the kids can see that these stories are not just confined to their own cultures but are global stories.”
“Our teaching methods go beyond any border, both geographical and cultural,” says Luca.
“On United Nations Day in October we invite all the families to celebrate with a multicultural party. We have dances where children will dance to some traditional music from countries other than their own and wear their countries’ traditional dress. Some of the teachers are from countries other than Sweden, too, and we’ll join in the dancing.”
But there’s a more profound dimension to this internationalism, too, as Rachelle explains.
“The school has been sponsoring a feeding programme in the Philippines to support the students of primary schools in Legazpi city,” she says. “There are videos and communications back and forth between the schools and Futuraskolan. As much as we can teach empathy at home, sometimes it resonates more with the kids at school. They’ll say things like, ‘Oh, this kid doesn't have shoes and he has to walk to school.’
“They learn that there's no clean water in certain places, or some people don't have electricity. Futuraskolan is teaching our kids empathy and to be caring. These are incredibly important, long-term life lessons. And they’re being taught them at a very early age.”
Futuraskolan's commitment to encouraging curiosity in the wider world extends beyond preschool into regular school years, all part of its approach to helping children become empathetic, globally-minded human beings.
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