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Key Takeaways:

  • Open-mindedness makes a child more receptive to diversity and change. They are excited to explore new ideas and perspectives.
  • It’s essential for a child to learn open-mindedness, as it broadens their horizons and helps them make well-informed decisions.
  • Some activities to encourage open-mindedness include writing to a pen pal, facilitating friendly debates, playing multicultural games, and learning a new language.

Modern households are not as conservative as they used to be. Pair liberal practices with access to infinite amounts of information on the internet, and your child can explore the world in ways that weren’t possible before.

However, being open-minded also means being responsible. Through these open-mindedness activities, you can teach your child to embrace diversity and enjoy new experiences while being kind to themselves and others.

Definition of Open-Mindedness in Kids

An open-minded child is willing to explore new ideas, perspectives, and information without judgment. They do a good job of considering different viewpoints and being open to change.

Children become open-minded out of natural curiosity and cognitive development [*]. Exposure to diversity also helps them foster an understanding of cultural and social differences—they might be exposed to these different backgrounds in school.

The Importance of Fostering Open-Mindedness in Kids

The current generation is the most open-minded in history, but seeing different perspectives isn’t the same as understanding them. Helping your child hone their open-mindedness teaches them to listen and learn without prejudice.

When a child can try something before they decide they like or dislike it, they become more adaptable in society. Open-mindedness is also closely linked to critical thinking, as children learn to analyze information to make informed decisions [*].

Another benefit of open-mindedness in children is the ability to communicate effectively. Because open-minded children are more likely to embrace new ideas, they’ll be more naturally innovative.

Teaching open-mindedness is also beneficial for a child’s emotional intelligence and resilience, as they can manage their emotions and navigate situations confidently.

15 Activities to Teach Open-Mindedness to Kids

When teaching your child to be open-minded, try engaging in activities that encourage exploration and critical thinking. Here are a few open-minded activities you can enjoy together.

1. Host a cultural exchange day

Organize a day where kids can learn about different cultures. Learn how to greet people in different languages, explore cultural artifacts, and try local snacks. Do ample research beforehand and approach cultural nuances with sensitivity.

2. Write to a Pen Pal

While the days of letter-writing are a little obsolete, there’s still much fun to be had between pen pals. Whether sending snail mail or using an online app, arranging a safe pen pal correspondence can be a fun way for your child to learn about different cultures from a peer’s perspective.

Use our Friendship-Making Skills poster to help your child connect with others.

3. Start a debate club

Children are very opinionated and need a safe space to express these opinions. When choosing debate topics, keep them age-appropriate and provide opportunities for critical thinking. For instance, you might try topics like:

  • Is outdoor play more fun than indoor play?
  • Should students be allowed to bring phones to school?
  • Should students have a say in school rules?
  • Should kids be allowed to choose their own bedtime?

Encourage respectful listening throughout the debate.

4. Cook foods from different cultures

Cooking with kids is a delightful and educational experience that also encourages them to be more adventurous with food. Try cooking foods from different cultures, such as Italian pizza, Japanese sushi rolls, French crepes, Swedish meatballs, or Thai mango sticky rice.

5. Play multicultural games

Multicultural games for kids provide a fun and active way to introduce them to different cultures while promoting teamwork and social skills. The Jarabe Tapatio is a popular one—it’s similar to musical chairs, though participants dance around a sombrero.

Daruma Otoshi is another popular option. It’s a Japanese block-stacking game similar to Jenga, in that participants must knock out blocks using a small hammer without letting the Daruma doll on top fall.

6. Learn a new language

Some things are better said in other languages. Many different words encapsulate feelings or experiences in ways that English can’t. Learning a new language provides more opportunities to see things from a different perspective. Work with a tutor or learn the language alongside your child so they have someone to practice with.

7. Ask a question a day

Children are naturally curious, so why not indulge their questions? Encourage them to ask a question a day—it can be about anything! For instance, your child might ask questions like:

  • Do animals have feelings?
  • Why do we dream?
  • Why do we have to go to school?
  • What makes something right or wrong?

You might discover something new together!

8. Watch movies featuring different cultures

Films provide an excellent avenue for introducing diversity and open-mindedness to children. A few crowd favorites include Moana, an animated Disney film featuring Polynesian mythology and traditions.

The Breadwinner is another stunning animated film that tells the story of a young girl in Afghanistan as she struggles to provide for her family. It provides a glimpse into Afghan culture and the challenges families face.

9. Try an escape room

Escape rooms are fun, but they also demand a lot of brainpower. Take your child and their best friends—they’ll have to work together and be open to different methods of solving puzzles to succeed. They may discover new ways to solve problems that they didn’t consider before.

10. Create a collaborative art piece

As children learn what it means to be open-minded, they’ll understand that the concept of beauty is subjective. When creating an art piece together, they’ll grasp that what isn’t beautiful to one person may be beautiful to another. As they examine the finished art piece, ask them to share what they liked about each other’s work.

11. Play a word association game

When engaged in word association, a child will explore various meanings, contexts, and emotions. A simple game can challenge their thinking patterns and encourage a more nuanced understanding of language and ideas.

For instance, when you say the word “home,” one child might associate it with the word “family,” while another might associate it with the word “safe.”

12. Solve puzzles

You need to put the pieces together to see the bigger picture. Putting puzzles together provides an excellent parallel for appreciating the details. Choose age-appropriate puzzles to encourage critical thinking.

13. Read choose-your-own-adventure books

Choose-your-own-adventure books provide an interactive way to get your child’s brain racing. They’ll learn to understand what it means to make a “good” choice and grasp the consequences of a “not-so-good” choice.

Popular choose-your-own-adventure titles include “The Abominable Snowman” by R.A. Montgomery. Readers embark on a journey across the Himalayas to find the Abominable Snowman. Another popular choice is “The Secret Life of Ninja” by Jey Leibold. Readers navigate through tricky situations and uncover secrets.

14. Get your child involved in big decisions

Children aren’t always open to change, especially under stressful circumstances like changing schools or moving away. When such decisions come around, involve your child in the decision-making process to make them feel heard and understood.

Suppose you’re moving across the country, and your child doesn’t feel too confident about it. Provide some perspective into why the move is necessary and how it can benefit them. Then, give them a say in certain aspects like what color to paint the new walls or what the first meal at their new home should be.

15. Talk about earth shakers

Good role models for teaching kids about open-mindedness aren’t perfect people—they’re flawed, but full of empathy and a willingness to consider different perspectives. Some role models you might consider introducing include Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education, Fred Rogers, known for his children’s show about kindness, and Jane Goodall, a primatologist who promoted compassion toward animals.

The Bottom Line

People experience diversity everywhere they go, but they won’t always understand why things are the way they are. By trying these open-minded activities, your child will learn to be tolerant and accepting of different beliefs, languages, and traditions.

Learn more about what it means to be well-rounded by studying our character education posters.

Sources:

  1. Jack, MC. “Open-Mindedness as a Critical Virtue.” Topoi-an International Review of Philosophy, 2015.
  2. Price E. “Open-Minded Cognition.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2015.