This week, Aylan Kurdi’s death made huge headlines across every continent. I felt it was a great opportunity to teach my kids about refugees. It hadn’t always been a priority for me to teach that – more of a “if we have enough time, then we’ll touch on it” sort of thing. They don’t really have the maturity to comprehend a lot of the complex aspects involved in this issue. However, since I’ve started doing Unit Studies with my eldest recently, using Khan Academy’s History lessons as a base and a guide (we like the humorous videos by John Green and I believe in teaching History chronologically), I decided maybe we could do one on refugees this week.
I’ve been trying to find resources online to teach children about refugees in an age-appropriate way. Okay I know every kid is different. Some kids are more mature than others even if they are the same ages. But I just needed a guide of sorts. I could always get my eldest to read a news article or two, but I realised many articles about refugees (in particular Aylan Kurdi’s case) use terminology that may be too difficult for her to comprehend. Heck, I was even shocked recently when I discovered my eldest had no idea what the phrase “home economics” meant! So I cannot assume she would understand a lot of the more complex stuff, although she is capable of understanding the main gist. I had her read a newspaper article about the 3 brave Americans who helped save an entire train carriage of passengers from massacre by a gun-wielding terrorist. She could understand that. I often ask her to write up a paragraph at least about her thoughts on whatever I asked her to read. Sort of as a practicing of writing, and a practice in reflection I suppose. I’ve been trying to get her to read “living articles”. You know how Charlotte Mason thought “living books” were best for teaching about History? Well I think “living articles” are great for social studies too. I prefer the term “social studies” for what I try to get my daughter to learn. It is a great mix of history, geography, current affairs, cultural issues, etc. It is very hard and I find, unnecessary, to try and break up the things I get her to learn into neat little subject boxes. It just doesn’t exist over here. Though I could do that if I tried. But when you learn naturally, things usually don’t come in neat isolated subject packages.
I found the following resources for teaching about refugees which I personally found useful and adaptable for home education:
UNHCR’s Lesson Modules http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4ab356d36.html
Red Cross’s refugee teaching resources http://www.redcross.org.uk/Tags/Refugees-
Amnesty International’s Human Rights teaching resources http://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/teaching-pack-everyone-everywhere-human-rights-secondary-school#.Ve5TuX2mQ5s
Guardian’s teaching resource (requires registration but it’s free to register) http://teachers.theguardian.com/teacher-resources/2149/elearn/Migration
Naldic’s teaching resource http://www.employabilityforum.co.uk/documents/RefugeesintoSchoolsResourcePack2.pdf
Lastly this one isn’t a teaching resource per se but it is a nice website and concept where people can learn about the different ways they can help refugees and even keep an online record of which ones they’ve managed to achieve http://www.simpleacts.org.uk/