22 Aug Introducing your children to the world without leaving the country
Over the last year I purchased a rather large world map. When I was trying to decide the best place to put it for homeschooling, the wall by our kitchen table seemed best. In my mind this place was not visually ideal, but the location has been a blessing!
Since the map is in a place we routinely sit together, we regularly talk about it. I treasure conversations and learning that have taken place about God’s precious world. As a side benefit it brings life into perspective for me at times.
I want my children to learn about the world, people of the world, and God’s heart for the world. I want them to know God’s desire for our role in the unfolding plan for this aching and groaning world FULL of people He treasures so much that he laid down His life on the cross.
What are a few ways we can expand our children’s world?
Disclaimer: there are many more ways than what I am proposing. I look forward to hearing from you in the comments about ideas or ways you grow your childrens’ hearts for this world!
1. Put a map of the world up in your home.
I have found ways to use our map intentionally as well as in impromptu situations while reading and in conversation. A month or two ago we checked out a book from the library called “Three Little Dassies” by Jan Brett. It became a beloved favorite we have read many times.
It is about dassies (similar to ground hogs) and agama lizards in the Namib desert in Namibia in Southern Africa. The author uses these animals to retell the story of the three little pigs. And while reading this story my sons and I found Namibia and the Namib desert on the map. I love making things come to life!
2. Read books that introduce your children to people of the world in age appropriate ways.
During the last year I also found a devotional prayer book at a second hand store. The book has pictures of children from all over the world, briefly discusses what some of their hardships are (poverty, loss of parents, etc), and included prayers. We would look up the country for each picture in the book and then pray for the children of that country.
3. When reading from the Bible show where the events took place.
We have used the map to show where Jesus lived and where events in the Bible happened. Recently we talked about how present day Iraq is where the Israelites were taken into captivity when they were taken to Babylon. But beware you will have young children who want to travel the world! One of our boys tells us of the different places he wants to go. Recently he told us he wants to go to Iraq and Hawaii:)
4. Humanize the joys and sufferings of others, the ways we are the same, and the ways we are unique.
I love the profound truths regarding how similar we, the people of this world, are to one another. We desire love, relationship, purpose, identity, and significance among other things. We all are loved by a mighty God who made a way, through Jesus, for us each to spend eternity with Him. We all have tremendous value to God.
God has made each of us individually and as people groups he has fashioned us uniquely. Just as different types of flowers reveal beauty in different ways, each people group uniquely reveals beauty. May my children see the beauty, value, and worth of every human being. Much of their perspective, especially in the earliest years, is formed by the ways that I speak of others near and far. I want to teach them to weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice, and relate to those who are similar and different from them.
5. Allow your own heart to be refined.
About 15 years ago I had the opportunity to meet a Jewish man who had survived the Holocaust. As we talked I told him of my love for Israel. He asked me a poignant question: he asked if I loved the land of Israel or the people of Israel. Talk about a question that went straight to the heart.
God’s earth is full of His glory…mountains, hills, oceans, lakes, jungles, deserts, plains, animals, flowers, trees, and so much more. His earth declares who He is. And it is to be enjoyed! But everything created is secondary to His love for people. When I teach my children about the world do I talk about the people who are in it? And his care for each person’s joys, sufferings, hopes, dreams, and trials? The world is a whole lot bigger and smaller than I realize. The world is a place and a collection of loved human beings. May my children learn about their role in His world and the good works they were created to fulfill in this world that is so desperate for all things good.