Hispanic Heritage Month typically runs through September and October, and it’s a time for Americans to celebrate the contributions, heritage and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans. There is no better time to explore and learn about the culture with your kids.
As a Cuban-American, I not only take the opportunity to teach my kids about their own family legacy during Hispanic Heritage Month but also the varying cultures and traditions of many other Latin American countries—and there is so much to learn.
Not to worry, you don’t have to speak Spanish to celebrate. While learning the language is definitely a plus, making the effort to connect to any culture opens the heart to global appreciation, so here are eight fun ways you can teach your kids about Hispanic heritage.
8 Ways to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With Kids
1. Celebrate With Food: One of the easiest ways to honor a culture is by enjoying its food and the traditions surrounding family meals. There are many authentic Latino recipes online for you to cook as a family, but visiting local, authentic Hispanic restaurants is a great way to celebrate their culinary heritage as well.
2. Read Bilingual Children’s Books: Reading provides insight into a culture from the comfort of your own home, and indulging in bilingual children’s books is a great opportunity to expose your family to Hispanic heritage without a high level of fluency in Spanish.
Bilingual books translate simple text into both English and Spanish, and they’re perfect for introducing a foreign language into the home while providing the opportunity for cultural conversations to happen.
3. Turn Up the Volume: You don’t have to be fluent in Spanish to appreciate the various influences of Hispanic music. Spanish music is as diverse as its people and comes in all tempos and rhythms. Especially for kids who are musically inclined, use Hispanic Heritage Month as an opportunity to explore the eclectic instruments and musical history of Spanish music. From Salsa to Cumbia and even Reggaeton, which beats are your family’s favorites?
4. Visit a Hispanic Market: As with any cultural enclave, markets are a great place to learn and appreciate food traditions and cultural norms. If your community doesn’t have a Hispanic market available, research popular Hispanic foods online, then look for them in your local grocery store. And, if available, pick up a delicious pan dulce for dessert!
5. Attend a Parade or Festival: With a bit of research, you might find local events that honor and celebrate their Hispanic community. This is a great opportunity to not only learn about the culture but become immersed in your own community. Check your local newspaper and community events websites to see if these events are available near you.
6. Fine Arts Appreciation: The beauty of art is its ability to transcend time and language barriers. Use this month as an opportunity to explore the contributions Latino and Spanish artists have made to the art scene. Noteworthy artists include Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, so visit the local art museum or take trip to the library and check out some art books to read with your kids.
7. Craft With Your Kids: After exploring the beauty of Hispanic artists, bring that inspiration home and continue the celebration with crafts that the kids will love. Ask kids to paint in various styles or to depict what life in another country like looks like.
8. Get Geographical: One of the biggest misconceptions is that Hispanic people all come from the same country or practice the same traditions. What unites the community is the use of the Spanish language, but the cultures are as diverse as the countries from which we originate. Use Hispanic Heritage Month as an opportunity to teach kids about geography and really get to know the countries of Central and South America, as well as Spain.
Whether you’re Latino or not, fluent in Spanish or only slightly bilingual, Hispanic Heritage Month is a wonderful opportunity to learn and bond with your kids.