In a time when the entire world has become one global village, parents are often faced with a dilemma. Everyday, our children are being exposed to a world that is becoming increasingly smaller, thanks to the wide accessibility of the Internet, and also because schools are now celebrating events like Halloween, Valentine’s Day and even prom nights with much fanfare. There is a greater exposure to various cultures, which even a decade earlier was quite unheard of.
Event management companies now offer various activities in these events and the children simply love costume parties, trick-or-treat and candy sharing, quite understandably so. These are now the cherished moments of their childhood which they will fondly look back on in the near future.
Today’s parents encourage such activities for their children in an effort to instil cosmopolitan values in their wards. Although this may not necessarily be a bad thing, the red flag is raised only when these young, impressionable minds are not adequately exposed to our traditions and culture.
Often parents are thrown questions like, “When is the Victory Day of Bangladesh?”; “Why is everyone wearing white and black today?”; “Why are people wearing clothes with Bangla alphabets on them?”
While some parents are patient with such queries, others simply chide such inquisitiveness. But these are questions the children should learn to answer for themselves.
English medium schools have in the recent years made Bangladesh Studies a pre-requisite for passing Ordinary Level exams, but it would be wrong to state that such problems are faced solely by students of English medium schools.
What needs to be done is perhaps, to start at home.
Stories of the past generation
Children share a special bond with grandparents. Sharing the experience of Ekushey or the liberation war of the previous generations, or just reminiscing of the past can be educational as well as a great way to bond with the elders of the family.
Art and music
Enroling children in art or music schools can also be a very effective way to instil values. Most of these institutions chalk special programmes on days of national and cultural significance and by taking part in such events, parents can ensure that children learn about them effortlessly and in an interesting manner. However, one should always make a note of not making such events a burden for the children.
If they can simply soak their feet in various forms of art and culture, it can be hoped that they will soon be inclined to activities that they find attractive. In this way, your child can exhibit his/her talent and at the same time gather more knowledge about the songs and poems that were produced from the language movement.
Keep traditions alive
Visiting the Shaheed Minar in the early hours of 21st February with your child and paying homage to the language martyrs with thousand others will surely remain as a special memory. Walking bare foot with thousands of people, carrying flags, laying down flowers, waiting at the queue, having a flag painted on the cheek will be memories that they will cherish forever. Museums and amusement parks also display historical artefacts, which can be a fun as well as educational.
Books and movies
There is a large selection of books on the Language Movement or the Liberation War and one way of introducing them to children could be books suitable for their age. Recently, graphic novels have been released on such topics which children will definitely find interesting.
Visiting the boi mela
Every year in the month of February, the Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela is held, which is possibly the most culturally significant event of our collective lives. To encourage children attending the mela, special hours are designated which will allow them to walk through the fair with ease. Make a note of taking your child there. Although one should not expect them to choose only educational books, simply exposing them to books in general can soon lead them to discovering the history of this nation in their own special way.