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Teaching your Child about your Culture

Written by Xavier Murphy

You are Jamaican but your children either left Jamaica at an early age or were born in a country outside of Jamaica. You yearn for them to learn about Jamaica and your culture but don’t know how. Here are a few things you can do to teach your children about Jamaica and your Jamaican heritage. Some of the tips are what I use on my own kids.

Read Jamaican stories and poems.
Reading the rich tales of Jamaica and poems are a great way to introduce them to the culture from a very young age. My personal favorite are Anancy stories, poems by Miss Lou and “When I was a boy” by Charles Hyatt. I have been reading to my kids from birth and they are growing up to love these stories. The stories lead them to ask questions about my experience as a child in Jamaica.

Speak Patois
Don’t be afraid to speak Jamaican patois around your children at home. This is the only dose of Jamaican culture you can ensure they get daily. The Jamaican proverbs are especially great when getting a point across. Remember this is what we grew up with to keep us on the “straight and narrow”. Don’t be surprised when your kids start to mimic you.

Sing Jamaicans songs and Play Jamaican games
This is another great way fun way to have your kids learn about the Jamaican culture. The songs of Jamaica will stay in their minds. You can substitute “regular lullabies” for “Jamaican lullabies”. Children also learn easily from games. Some of the games we played in Jamaica are simple and require little material. These are games that teach creativity. See our articles on Children Game.

 

Cook
If there is one tell tale item from our culture that can be taken from the Jamaican culture, from Generation to Generation, it is the food. All the cultures do this, Italians, French and many other cultures. There are some simple foods that you can introduce your kids to like patties and Jamaican pastries. At least 3 Jamaican meals a week is a good start. We have many recipes available on our site.

School Project
Most children at some point in their school life will have a project that requires them to learn about another culture. Point your kids to do a project on Jamaica, it would be great learning tool for them. You become a resource for them in this project. This website also provides vast amounts of information on Jamaica that can assist them with this project.

Toys
If you have access to material from Jamaica you can build toys. A Jamaican t-kite and Baige kite is great for boys. It teaches them to work with their hands.

Send them to Jamaica for the summer
This is probably the best way to get your child familiar with your Jamaican culture. They will eat the food, play the games, and play with the toys. Jamaica’s summer holidays normally begin a week later than the schools in North America. This is a great opportunity for your kids to experience school in Jamaica if the have a relative around the same age at the school. With permission, most schools will allow your child to attend for a few days with that relative. If you can afford it, this is a great way to get them to learn about the culture.

It is important for you to help your children to learn about their rich cultural identity as it will always helps to keep you family history alive.

About the author

Xavier Murphy