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Our family has some exciting news to share: later this summer, we will be worldschooling in Mexico!
Since my husband’s current job allows him to work from home (or really, anywhere with a good Internet connection), we decided to seize this chance to return to our beloved Mexico City, which we’ve visited twice before. We’ll be there for most of August, reconnecting with friends, exploring the sights, and eating as many street tacos as we can stuff in our faces (okay, that might just be me).
I honestly cannot wait to experience Mexico through the eyes of my children. My older son has actually been there before—we spent three months in Mexico City when he was a toddler—but this will be the first time that he’s really aware of all that’s going on around him (and why everyone is speaking Spanish to him). So before we go, I want to prepare him for all of the new experiences that he’s going to have. To that end, I’m using the month of July to lead a super-relaxed Mexico unit study with them, and I thought that I would share what we’re doing in case you might like to re-create it in your own family. You definitely DON'T have to be planning a trip abroad to do any of these activities and in fact, all of them are relatively easy ways to promote cultural learning in your home (which, by the way, I’m a huge fan of).
Here’s what we’re doing in July to get ready for our worldschool experience:
Weekly Mexican dinners. Using my favorite cookbooks from Rick Bayless (Mexican Everydayand Authentic Mexican), I’ve planned one Mexican dinner per week for our family. While we eat it, we talk about what part of Mexico the dish comes from, what ingredients it uses, and a little bit about how and when it’s been traditionally eaten. The best part of this is that I’m not even doing any research to find that information: it’s all included in the cookbooks themselves! Prior to becoming a world-famous chef, Bayless was an anthropologist, and his deep understanding of Mexican culture comes out in his detailed and educational cookbooks. And just in case you were wondering, many of his recipes can be completed with a toddler hanging off your leg--not like that's how I cook, or anything.
Manners training. With our older son, we are practicing a number of manners that will be important in Mexico: how to greet people in Spanish, how to introduce ourselves, and how to say goodbye. Watching this catchy YouTube video about manners in Spanish has been helpful, but we’ve also been working on these things throughout our day, both alone and with our Spanish-speaking friends. One other thing we’re working on (and which is connected to #1 on this list): trying new foods. Neither of our children are naturally adventurous eaters, so we’re pushing them a bit out of their comfort zone with this, but since they will be eating lots of new foods in Mexico, I want them to be ready for that experience and gracious to whoever prepares those dishes.
Art exposure. While we’re in Mexico, I’m planning to have us visit the Museo de Bellas Artes at least once, as well as La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s childhood home, which is now a very well-designed museum. To give my older son some context for those visits, we’ve been reading Frida and Her Animalitos, about the animals that she lived with and loved, and are planning to explore the app Frida’s world, which gives more of an introduction to her art. If you’re a Kahlo fan yourself and want to share her art with your children, you can take a look at Mommy Maestra's list of books, crafts, and videos all related to Kahlo.
- Read-alouds about Mexico. In June, I visited our local library and checked out literally every age-appropriate book that I could find about Mexico—which, in the end, totaled about 20 or so. Since then, we’ve been going through them at a rate of approximately one per day and combining them with selections from our own home library to expand our son’s understanding of Mexico’s history and culture. I’m planning a post soon highlighting our favorites, so look out for that—and for them to be added to my resource library, where you can find many others
Though my focus has obviously been on my older son, I’ve included my little guy in all of these activities—and he’s enjoyed them! All together, this unit study (if I can even call it that) has been a gentle and low-stress way to prepare our kids for trip and to open their eyes to some of the fun things that await them. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you once we arrive!
If you’ve traveled with your kids, what do you do to prepare them for your trips?