Is your passport about to expire?
If you’re someone who likes to travel, few questions provoke anxious feelings like this one. In fact, for me, this is one of those questions that make my eyes pop open in the middle of the night (along with “Where is my birth certificate?!”). Thankfully, since becoming a mom, I’ve been compelled to organize my important documents and know exactly where they are—because new moms know that sleep is precious, and also because since my son goes through a new sleep regression what seems like every other week, I need to limit what keeps me up at night!
But back to passports—
You may or may not be thinking about getting a passport for your little one. You might even already have done it (Kudos to you! Getting that passport pic of your babe is tough!) But what if we told you that your baby is born with a special status of global citizen, one that doesn’t require a passport but opens up a world of opportunity for your child?
The United Nations describes global citizenship as the “belief that individuals are members of multiple, diverse, local and non-local networks rather than single actors affecting isolated societies.” The idea of global citizenship is multifaceted, and spans topics and ideas such as social responsibility, sustainability, and economic justice. A true global citizen is someone who is aware of the world around them and the interconnectedness of all people and nations, and who uses this awareness to create a sense of responsibility for the planet and its inhabitants, while working to make a positive difference in the world.
Our mission at smallTalk is to take the incredible gift of language acquisition that all babies are born with, and give parents a way to hone, prime, and cultivate that gift while the window of opportunity remains open.
A little bit about the science: babies are born with the unique ability to make any sound from any language and can distinguish between sounds that are unique to different languages. At birth, babies are ready to internalize and acquire any language they hear, as long as they have consistent interaction with someone (a parent or caregiver) in that language. This superpower begins to diminish at around 6 months of age, with an even sharper decrease at 10 months if the skill is not nurtured. Granted, children still learn languages with considerable ease up until about age 9, after which time the brain’s development has consolidated to a point where the learning process is different and the information of any new language systems learned begins to be stored in a different area of the brain when compared to languages acquired from birth or very early childhood.
And while linguistic capability is not the only mark of global citizenship, it is a gateway to the development of all the other qualities of a global citizen, since the skill of communication is the most basic and intrinsic pathway to forging meaningful relationships with others. In fact, researchers have found that children become aware that life exists beyond their immediate communities and geographic locations very early in their development.
There are many other things that parents can do to help their babies become global citizens. One of the most important things you can do for your child is to expose them to different cultures and ways of life. You might do this by traveling (for tips on travel with babies, see here), or by simply learning about other cultures through books, movies, and music. Instilling in our children the understanding that we share this planet and need to take care of it is another way to cultivate global citizenship from a young age. Global citizens enjoy many benefits—they are more likely to be tolerant of others and open-minded about different cultures and ways of life, and also have a greater sense of responsibility for the planet and its inhabitants. Bi- or multilingualism is naturally complementary to these important and over-arching skills and qualities. And from the perspective of a long-term investment in your child’s future, global citizens are more likely to be successful in their careers as they have the skills that employers are looking for in today’s economy.
Babies are born global citizens, and you can give them the gift of developing this innate quality through language as soon as they are born. smallTalk can help you achieve the goal of cultivating your little one’s natural identity as a global citizen. Check out more ways that smallTalk can help you prime your baby’s brain for multi-lingual learning so they can fully claim their role as global citizens as they grow (no passport required!).