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Cultural connections: Leaving a legacy by exploring family roots

Carissa became the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Grown Ups after a career in the medical field and academia. She is married and has three (very) loud and active kids. She enjoys loose leaf tea, her kids' inventive bedtime stories, and...

How do you introduce your roots to your children? Here are some ideas.

Photo credit: szefei/iStock/360/Getty Images

Introducing family heritage to your children can provide fun and educational activities while helping to instill a deeper family bond. How do you introduce your roots to your children? Here are some ideas.

Hit the books

During your child’s study time at home or just for fun, you can add lessons about your ancestry. Take advantage of an assigned world history project to focus on your home country. You can introduce reading materials, maps and books that are written in your country’s language or depict its people’s life and culture.

Let’s eat

Every country has its own specialty fare. Each food course usually includes a story or tradition behind its preparation and why people love to serve it. Visit an international grocery store and sample new ingredients or interesting packaged foods. Introduce your country’s most common, best or unique dishes to your children.

Learn the language

Language learning apps or word-a-day calendars help keep it fun rather than overwhelming. Start with common words such as mom, dad, hello and thank you. Branch into the language’s alphabet and conversational phrases.

Incorporate music and dance

Help your kids get their groove on by passing down the love of your home country’s music and dance. It doesn’t have to be limited to the folk and traditional music. Modern and contemporary tunes can make your children sing along and dance up a storm.

Root for the home team

The internet and some television providers make viewing of international sports possible year-round. The Olympic games, including the opening and closing ceremonies and athlete biographies, are also a great way to explore the life and people of your home country.

Introduce family heirlooms or unique items from your country

Some families are fortunate enough to possess memorable items that have been passed down through the generations. Presenting them and explaining their importance to your children can help build interest in the past. Some examples include your national attire or costume, old letters with foreign postmarks or stamps, or other cherished family treasures.

Encourage them to use the internet to research and connect with your past

The internet provides many avenues to help your children learn more about their heritage. Like a modern-day pen pal (and with appropriate adult supervision), social media sites can let your children connect and interact with people from your country. There are several genealogy sites online where your children can research their roots and eventually create your family tree. In addition, DNA testing has become available for entertainment use with the results suggesting racial and geographic roots.

Let your children interact with relatives

Grandparents, aunts and cousins from your home country will certainly have lots of stories to tell your children. Regular communication with relatives abroad is now possible by low-cost international calls or video chats.

Visit your home country

If budget is not a concern, the most effective way for children to learn your culture is to immerse them in it. Nothing beats the opportunity for your children to learn things first-hand. Children 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.

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