Ten Simple Tips to Help Children to Understand their Place in the World
Anne Keeling, International Primary Curriculum

Learning does not just happen in school.  The role that family members can play at home is so important. Talking with a child about their learning and helping them to see that learning happens all the time and all around them in everyday life can have a huge impact.

So what can you do to help you child learn about who they are and their place in the world? Here are ten tips from the experts at the International Primary Curriculum who work with teachers and children throughout the world to support them with their learning. These simple suggestions can help to make a big difference:

1. Value similarities and differences

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

From their earliest years, help your child to be aware that we all share similarities as well as differences. People, just like plants and animals, all have the same basic needs of shelter, food and care but, like plants and animals, there are differences in people too; in their appearance, where they live, the food they eat, their interests and lifestyles, their beliefs and cultures. The differences are what make people so interesting. Find opportunities in everyday life to help your child to develop an understanding of this.

2. Look for similarities before the differences

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

When talking with your child about others value the differences but, importantly, emphasise the similarities. Sometimes just looking for similarities first, before talking about the differences, can change the way we think about people.

3. Help your child develop a sense of their own identity

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

Look at your own family history. Talk about where all your family members were born and have lived. Talk about the celebrations you have and the traditions you follow and help your child to know why these are important to your family. Talk about other things that make your family unique.

4. Help your child to develop a sense of others

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

Help your child to see things from the point of view of other people.  Talk about the celebrations and traditions of your friends and neighbours. Everyone does things in different ways and for different reasons. Help your child to understand that different doesn’t mean wrong.

There is a quote from Harper Lee’s book To Kill A Mockingbird that might help you: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Encourage your child to put themselves into "other people’s shoes and have a good walk around". They could think about other children or people in their school or in their community or in other places in the world. What does your child and your family have in common with these children or people?

5. Get a world map and display it where you can all see it

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

The kitchen is a great location, or somewhere that your whole family gathers together. Then every time you talk about a different place in the world, you can take a look at the map to find out where it is. Ask your child to find the country it is located in and perhaps identify who has visited or lived there and what makes the place similar and different to your own.

6. Explore the food you eat

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

Think about the food you eat each day and try to find out where the ingredients come from to make your meal. For example, if you are making pizza, ask yourselves: where does the cheese come from, and the tomatoes, and the flour for the dough? What about the olives? Alternatively, you could look in your fridge or store cupboard and look at the labels to see where the food you have bought comes from.

Talk about how we depend on so many different countries for the food that we enjoy. You could even eat your way around the world, exploring a food, dish or recipe from a different country each week.

7. Find out where things are made

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

Help your child to look at the labels of their clothes, their toys and the everyday things around you to find out where they were made. Talk about how these items have found their way from the country they were made in to your local store – this can lead to some really interesting discussions about trade and transport. You could use your world map to locate these different places.

8. Enjoy music and stories from other countries

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

Collect stories from around the world. This can include traditional folk and fairytales from other countries, and stories about other countries too. You could read your way around the world. You can do the same with music too.

9. Find out what’s happening around the world

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

Encourage your child to follow news around the world on a child-friendly news website or news source such as CBBC or First News, or you may find this page of the Newseum website helpful: www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/ Choose a global news story and talk about this with your family. Think about the impact of this news story on the children and adults of that country, and of your own country too.

10. Talk about the roles people play and the jobs people do

Help Children to Understand their Place in the World

Talk about the people that your child comes across in everyday life – the cook, the office manager, the teacher and the caretaker at school. Help your child realise that each one of these people has an important part to play in making the school function well. Think about all the people in your local community and talk about how important it is to have someone who runs the shop, who helps people when they are ill, who collects the rubbish, and who teaches children. Help your child to value the work that everyone does.

All of these activities will help your child to start developing a sense of themselves and of others. This is essential for the development of international mindedness which should be a vital part of learning and is an integral part of the International Primary Curriculum (IPC).

The International Primary Curriculum is used in schools in 87 countries around the world. It is a challenging yet creative and exciting way for children to learn their subjects as well as personal skills, and also to learn about the way other people live all over the world. It is a curriculum that is acclaimed by parents, schools and advisors globally. If you would like to know more about the IPC go to www.greatlearning.com/ipc