By Kristin Littrell, CFCA freelancer
I’m a mom to two young girls, and there’s a lot I don’t know about parenting. A lot.
But I do know that my husband and I long for our children to have a global worldview.
We want them to know from a young age that they live in a world bigger than their school, neighborhood or even country.
We hope they’ll see their life in relation to the world, not just in relation to the girl at school who has more trendy clothes or takes better vacations.
We believe a global worldview produces compassion, a celebration of diversity and a belief that we are all, regardless of location, created in God’s image.
We pray it will encourage our kids to make choices that benefit the good of others, sometimes even at the expense of their own desires.
Because our kids are still young, we’re just beginning this journey, but we’re doing a few things that we hope are planting the seeds of a compassionate global worldview in their hearts and minds.
I’d love to share them with you through a few upcoming blog posts. For now, let’s start by watching the Olympics with our kids.
Let the Olympics bring the world to your living room
I have vivid childhood memories of the Olympics: of staying up past my bedtime, lying on the carpeted floor of my parent’s home, watching the Olympics with my family.
I loved it. It was always a special event for us, and I think it’s where I began to see how big, exciting and interesting our world is.
1. Parade of Nations
The Parade of Nations during the Opening Ceremonies is an amazing display of our world’s diversity. When else do you get to watch athletes representing 200 countries carry their flags and hear the commentator’s brief description of these people and places?
It’s like a large world geography lesson in your living room.
Consider making the Opening Ceremonies a special tradition in your home, complete with fun snacks and a pallet on the floor. You could make homemade soft pretzels in the shape of Olympic rings, or wrap tiny cheese rounds in foil to resemble medals.
Maybe your kids would enjoy snacking on a torch: an ice cream cone filled with popcorn, which you can see at this “A Small Snippet: Olympics Party” blog post (the picture below is also from this blog post).
Find other fun Olympic-themed snack ideas on our Pinterest board.
(The Opening Ceremonies air on Friday, July 27.)
2. World Map
A world map is the best piece of artwork you could have in your home, especially during the Olympics. As you watch events with your children, encourage them to find the countries represented on the map.
This will help them connect faces on TV to specific locations around the world. (Tip: I spotted large world maps in the school supply section at Target for only $5.)
If your children ask about individual countries, look up quick information on the CIA World Factbook or consider finding a documentary about that country.
3. Investigate the medal count
For older children, you could study the correlation, if any, between the economic realities of the countries with the largest medal count, and countries without a medal in the games.
To begin your conversation, read this recent article on The Atlantic: The 5 Olympic Sports Where Being Rich Matters the Most.
This could lead to great discussions about the economic disparities of our world.
4. Watch the Olympics
As your children view athletes from different countries and cultures, they will be reminded of the vastness of the world we call home.
To top it off, the Olympics are full of stories of individuals who have overcome adversity to find success.
As we interact with the Olympic games, don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate the gifts and abilities of the athletes competing in the Paralympics, which begins Aug. 29.
The dedication, discipline and triumph of these athletes will surely inspire us all.
6. Crafts, games, books and more
Check out our Pinterest board for Olympic craft ideas, family Olympic games, suggested children’s books, and other fun ideas!
We’ve pulled together links to some of the best resources on the internet, and there’s something for every age.
The Olympics are a gift to us for many reasons.
As we think about raising kids to understand the broad world they live in, there are few easier teaching opportunities than the Olympic games.
Enjoy the Olympics (airing on NBC from July 27 to Aug. 12), and let us know how you use them to teach your children!