Helping Kids Become Global Citizens

“The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”

—Thomas Paine

What is global citizenship? Oxfam defines global citizenship as being “all about encouraging young people to develop the knowledge, skills, and values they need to engage with the world. And it’s about the belief that we can all make a difference.”

With the world becoming more globalized and interconnected, teaching children to be global citizens is paramount. With a global citizenship education, young people develop deeper awareness and empathy; can better understand complex realities of today’s world and communicate effectively with others; and hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to help them face the challenges of an interconnected world.

Children who grow up being global citizens are often more tolerant and respectful of others, celebrate diversity, foster equity and inclusion, and strive to make a positive change in the world.

Global citizenship education can be incorporated into existing curricula and/or as additional activities and projects. Here are a few tactics that can be incorporated to help your students become global citizens.

Bring global perspectives through literature

Incorporate global stories into your reading curriculum. Books are a great way to introduce students to the experiences and perspectives of people from different cultures. I Am Malala or The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind are sure to engage students to discuss and reflect on topics such as education, leadership, and stereotypes.

Teach a second language

Learning another language is good for the brain, and it has been shown to enhance cognitive abilities and improve achievement in reading and math. But language learning also teaches valuable lessons about determination, resilience, and cultural differences. Learning a new language is hard, and the experience of acquiring a new language also teaches kids empathy—when children work hard to learn another language, they learn compassion for those who struggle to communicate and be understood.

Travel

Mark Twain wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Indeed, traveling is the perfect way to have a first-hand experience of other cultures and challenges that other people around the world face. It helps us develop understanding of others and broaden our perspectives. Of course, traveling to far-away countries is not always possible. However, there are ways to step out of our comfort zone and explore the world on a more local scale. Any field trip that emphasizes global perspectives, such as museums, concerts, or cultural festivals, are great. You can also organize virtual trips, such as LUV’s Experiencias, which are virtual visits that take students on a cultural exploration of three Spanish-speaking countries: Colombia, Perú, and Argentina. They explore these great places virtually while practicing Spanish!

Connect with classrooms in other countries

Introduce your students to the idea of having pen pals. Leveraging today’s technology, you can connect your students with others from all around the world virtually. Having students communicate and collaborate on projects with children their age from another culture can develop compassion and understanding of other values.

Level Up Village is a great way to have your students engage with peers in other countries. It provides the opportunity for students to develop 21st century skills, gain global competency, and learn how to work toward a common goal by engaging in video exchanges and projects with students from around the world. Through LUV’s secure platform, all students have equal access to the enriching experience of learning about different cultures.

Incorporate discussion on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The SDGs are 17 global goals that were created in 2015 by UN members and to be achieved by 2030. They are “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere.” From poverty to gender equality, ending hunger, climate change, and more, the SDGs call for activism both on the local and global level and demonstrate what it means to be a global citizen and work together to contribute to the betterment of the global community.

The 17 SDGs serve as great points for discussion with young people on what it means to be involved and create a better world for themselves and others. They also encourage young people to take steps to influence the world around them.

LUV’s Global Citizen Series is aligned to the UN’s SDGs, introduces teen students to global citizenship and 21st century skills, and teaches them to think critically about important global issues. Using LUV’s secure teacher-monitored global communications platform, classrooms work with partner classrooms in other regions or countries. They exchange video messages to get to know each other and then work on activities that target global challenges.

As the world becomes more interconnected, teaching children to be global citizens is no longer an option. Incorporating global citizenship activities into your curriculum is essential in developing your students’ empathy, cultural awareness, and tolerance, which in turn will help them thrive in the increasingly global community and set them for future success.