International Understanding in the Elementary School


Students develop a global awareness and appreciation for others

At Riverstone, our students cultivate a diverse global view and appreciation for the world’s peoples and cultures via academic endeavors and personal experiences. Through classrooms, in-home exchange programs, the outdoors, and international travel experiences, students form an international understanding that will help them contribute to our global society.

Promoting international understanding and celebrating diversity

Language Learning

First, every student from pre-kindergarten through grade 4 learns to speak another language beyond English. Our pre-kindergarten class is a dual language, Spanish-English class. From kindergarten through grade 4, students learn Spanish on a daily basis. Our grade 5 students are also introduced to Mandarin Chinese two days per week and continue their Spanish studies the other three days. In Middle and High School, they choose the language they want to study exclusively.

A Global View

During our units of inquiry, we encourage students to keep a global perspective. For example, in third grader, teachers discuss local foods — including local foods families in other countries might be eating. Each student researches a specific country’s traditions, cultures, and food sources. They might draw a Venn diagram showing commonalities and differences between Idaho and the country they are studying. They also draw maps and flags, and write short essays explaining the country and its food sources. Ultimately, they learn to see their topic through the eyes of children in another country.

International Student Community

Representation from 35 countries at our school — with students studying and exploring alongside of each other — is our greatest means of fostering an international understanding. In classroom conversations, our teachers encourage sharing perspectives on a single topic. We also seek out opportunities for our international students to connect with our younger students. As an example, during their unit on technology, fifth graders interviewed our international high school students about the use of technology in their countries’ classrooms.

Additionally, we study how different groups from around the world celebrate a common theme — light. For this topic, our parents generously help us organize celebrations that included guest speakers from the Boise Hare Krishna Temple and Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel. Students learn about music traditions, storytelling, and food associated with these celebrations.

As our students, staff and parents of all ages and backgrounds spend more time together, we all come to understand that at our core, we are all human beings who wish to be respected and welcomed.