In addition to stressing healthy living, friendly competition and peace, the Olympics offer an excellent opportunity for learning as a family. Last Friday night, our family gathered together around the TV and discussed the things we knew about Great Britain and London and tried to learn a bit more from the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
But it was during the Parade of Nations that the learning began that will continue for the next 2 weeks. While we fought to stay awake, our family learned new countries we were unfamiliar with. Countries like Togo and Mauritania were nations our family hadn’t heard of, which offered an opportunity to quickly pull out the laptop and do a quick Google Earth search. Before we knew it, we were flying from continent to continent, chasing nations.
If you listened carefully during the Parade of Nations, you’d hear a tiny bit about the culture, traditions and heroes of each country. But we found the parade moved so quickly this year that we tried something new. Each person selected a country he’d never heard of to learn about and make his “adopted” country for these Olympics.
Of course we’re all cheering for the USA and our favorite athletes. But this year, our family became fans of 5 new countries with 5 “smaller” athletes who are likely big hits in their countries. In doing so, we’re building our knowledge of culture, acceptance and interest around the world. So in addition to routing on Gabby Douglas in Women’s Gymnastics and Ricky Berens on the US Swim Team, we’ll also cheer for Anolyn Lulu who will play table tennis for the Republic of Vanuatu – a nation of small islands in the south Pacific.
Throughout the Olympic Games, we’ll also continue to learn about new nations and new stars. TV coverage often includes stories of athletes who have achieved great feats in their personal lives–these stories can often be used as encouragement for others. (And, of course, bring tears of love from moms.) When we view a flag being raised, our family takes advantage of this as an opportunity to learn more about a winning nation. Tell me, I’ll say, what do you know about Argentina? With the help of Google Earth, Google and Wikipedia, our family is strengthening their researching skills, practicing reading and learning a bit about the world outside our bubble.