Getting Ready:  Resources for Reflection as the School Year Approaches

For several years, when summer’s heat begins to die down and back-to-school preparations begin, I’ve sat my children down in front of the captivating documentary On the Way to School.[1]  With popcorn bowls in hand, we watch together as a family, and then my older children write a page or two of personal reflection.  While there may be some murmuring over having a writing assignment when school hasn’t yet started, there are truly few complaints.  My kids are continually intrigued by the lives of these other children from all over the world who seem both very like—and very unlike—them.  My goal in showing the movie is not simply to foster gratitude for the ease with which my children will wake up in their comfortable beds, eat a quick breakfast, climb into a car, drive a short distance to school, enter a climate controlled building, and assume their position as students one day soon.  I also want them to appreciate the different ways people all over the world are striving to learn and grow as human beings.  Our wonderful little school which exists in a small town—in one tiny corner of one state in a country that only makes up a portion of the globe—can start to feel like a mirror for all learning everywhere.  It takes diligence to remind ourselves that teaching and learning are not native to one culture.

On the Way to School is an excellent tool for broadening students’ perspectives and—hopefully—deepening their gratitude for opportunities to learn as the school year begins, but it is not the only resource for doing so!  I recently discovered a beautifully illustrated book entitled This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World.[2]  The text details the lives of seven different children as they go about a typical day in their respective locations and cultures.  This book could be used in lower grades to spark discussion about how children around the world learn and grow.  Older students might benefit from biographies about refugees who endure immense challenges in the pursuit of education.[3]  For further recommended resources on helping students become more globally minded, consider picking up a copy of Jamie C Martin’s Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time.[4]

I must confess that I have a personal interest in broadening students’ perspectives on learning and culture as my own family is getting ready for an adventure across the globe this fall.  One of my greatest hopes for my children during our travels is that they will take in far more than breathtaking architecture, inspiring historical sites, and magnificent works of art; my desire is that they will see with greater clarity how we are all human beings in the same condition—made in the image of God and in need of the Truth that sets all men free.


[1] On the Way to School is available to rent or buy on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, and other websites.

[2] Matt Lamothe, This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2017.

[3] I recently read (and greatly enjoyed!) the short biography Homes: A Refugee Story, written by a young boy from Iraq (Abu Bakr al Rabeeah) and his ESL teacher in Canada (Winnie Yeung).  Stories such as this one give us a valuable perspective on life and learning in the midst of survival. *Please note:  This book does include some graphic descriptions of terrorist activity that may be inappropriate for children.

[4] Jamie C. Martin, Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016.

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