Below you will find 10 lessons every global kid should learn. These are easy lessons every one can implement and you don’t need to travel far to do so. Global citizenship can also be learnt at home.
It goes without saying patience is not only a skill but a value. There are many times in life where we need to sit back and let time pass. It could be waiting for a train, or waiting for the results from a big exam. In the US we left behind a life that was so focused on constantly going, constantly being busy that it took me a long time to realize I was sucked into this unhealthy need to always be busy. Whether it’s having to save up money for a big purchase (instead of getting it RIGHT NOW) or being at peace when it takes 10 minutes for a train to show up, patience is a valuable skill for everyone.
Being aware of your surroundings is always important, but even more so when you’re somewhere new. Global kids need to learn how to watch what is happening around them. This will help protect them in dangerous situations but also give valuable clues when they are somewhere new. Take for example eating dinner at a restaurant in a new country. You notice that everyone is waiting for the entire table to be served before they start eating. Or, a man is coming around the table with a tea kettle of water and a napkin to rinse off your hands. There are many social faux pas that can happen in a new place but by having keen observation skills they can be avoided.
There are many times when it will not be possible to speak to another person. They may not speak the same language or they may not be able to hear or speak due to a health reason. What do you do? Global kids need to learn to express themselves and understand others who may not be able to use the same words. Techniques like sign language or drawing with paper and pencil can help break down the language barrier. However, if children are never put in situations where they need to use alternative types of communication they may become angry or upset when they don’t understand.
Different cultures have different ways of dealing with personal space, In Latin cultures people tend to be much closer to each other when talking than for example Germans might be. In France it’s customary to kiss a person on both cheeks, but in North America a firm handshake says hello. It’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to personal space and by observing non-verbal clues the person leaves (do they step back? step in?) it can be easier to understand what that persons preferences are.
When confronted with customs different from your own it’s very easy to “culture shame”. Instilling a sense of open-mindedness in children means showing them how to be present in a situation without judging based on their own cultural notions. They will face many encounters in life when things will be done differently than they’ve known. Instead of holding up the proverbial
measuring stick of their own cultural lens, being open-minded will allow them not to judge but to observe and reflect on different practices.
The ability to understand all types of directions (not just on a map) is important. This could be something as simple as “don’t cross the street alone” or “be sure you pick up x before you do y”. All children need to learn to understand directions but for global kids it takes on an even bigger meaning. They will be confronted with situations where they are with other people who may be delivering directions, or may be using another language. The ability to listen, understand, analyze, and put those instructions into place is an important lesson.
Everyone should learn orientation skills, not just those that travel a lot. Whether it’s getting around town, finding something in a shop, or locating a train route, orientation is hugely important skill! Today, many people default to an app or other type of technology to assist them but what happens if it fails? Learning to navigate on paper, and by analyzing your natural
surroundings is just as important. Global kids need to learn to read a bus table, train route, or roadmap. They also need to know how to get themselves out of a situation when they are lost. No two situations are the same but having the skill set to navigate will be valuable more than just one time!
Global kids need to learn to adapt to new situations when they’re presented. Is there a different type of toilet in the bathroom? Are all of the foods on the table things they’ve never seen before? Will they be sleeping in a house that looks different from what they’re used to? Learning to adapt to whatever life throws your way is a valuable lesson everyone should know. It fosters creativity, ingenuity, and lets children reinvent themselves when opportunities are presented.
This is a difficult, but important lesson to learn. I tell my children they shouldn’t judge someone because you never know what their path is. Being faced with people who have different living situations whether that’s homelessness or begging or something different is not something to turn your nose up at. My kids do not run and are not scared. Sometimes they ask if they can give them money or food. We do whenever possible. Showing children that it’s important to have feelings and show kindness towards people – all people – is a very valuable life skill that will take them far in life. We have a great list of videos to learn about empathy.
Global kids are bound to meet lots of different people in new places. But, that also means a whole host of challenges. Being friendly and accepting is important but learning when to say no and what boundaries need to be in place is also important. Learning where to draw those lines will help children long after they become adults and may be in a compromising situation. The
world is a wonderful place but it also can be a dangerous place.
I hope these ten life lessons for global kids got you thinking of ways to share and teach your kids a few things not taught in school books! Are there other lessons you’d add to my list?