5 Ways To Connect Kids To Culture

Growing up as a first-generation Indian American, I was exposed to two very different cultures. At home, my parents did their best to raise me with a strong connection to our South Asian roots. But when I went to school and attended events, I felt like I was immersed in American culture, and struggled to find a way to embrace both with pride.

Now that I have children of my own, I am insisten on ensuring that they are exposed to and appreciate their cultural heritage. Below are five ways I try to create interest in our culture for my kids. Hope they inspire you to create a cultural connection.

1. Celebrate Festivals & Cultural Events

One of the best ways to maintain our culture is by celebrating traditional festivals like Diwali, Holi, or Navratri. We decorate our home, prepare traditional foods, wear traditional clothes, and celebrate with family and friends. I also love taking my kids to cultural events like dance performances or music shows. This exposes them to the diversity of South Asian art forms and helps them appreciate the richness of our culture. 

2. Expose Them to the Language

I believe that language is a key aspect of any culture, and so I am teaching my kids our native language, Gujarati. I’m not the best at it and cannot read or write, but I can speak it which keeps me connected to my family. My kids also speak it and understand it which helps them connect with their grandparents, and other extended family. It's important to me that they can communicate with relatives and friends who speak the same language.

3. Eat Traditional Foods

Another way to expose our children to South Asian culture is by cooking traditional foods at home. I involve my children in the cooking process and explain the significance of each dish. I don’t limit this to just Gujarati food, but the foods and spices that are found all over India. This helps them understand and appreciate the unique flavors and aromas of our cuisine.

4. Share Stories and Legends

We often share stories and legends from our culture with my kids. From the stories of Ram to old wives tales we do our best and answer the questions they may have about the stories. This helps them understand the values and traditions that are important to our culture, and they find it fascinating to learn about the rich history and myths. It also helps us understand our culture more deeply as well.

5. Wear Traditional Attire

Wearing traditional attire on special occasions is a great way to maintain your culture. Dress your children in traditional clothes and explain the significance of each garment. This will help them appreciate the beauty and elegance of their cultural attire, and they will feel proud of their heritage.

This is the reason why I started Aarika’s Closet. I wanted to create a positive connection with our traditional clothes and our culture. I didn’t want them to feel frustrated because they were uncomfortable and started creating a negative feeling towards our culture. I have curated some of the most comfortable outfits for kids and have made them accessible to parents across the United States.

I feel it is so important for us (parents) to actively expose our children to their cultural heritage. There is no right or wrong way to so. Celebrating festivals, teaching them the language, cooking traditional foods, sharing stories, creating relationships with family and friends of the same cultural background, and attending cultural events are some of ways that we can keep our culture alive and thriving for the generations to come.

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