Parents' Guide to

Miss Kiet's Children

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Poignant docu about Dutch teacher's refugee students.

Movie NR 2017 115 minutes
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Touching and evocative, this Dutch documentary from married filmmakers Peter and Petra Lataster beautifully captures the nuances of teaching -- and being -- refugee children. The kids aren't native Dutch speakers, and the English subtitles capture the difficulties some of them have communicating with their extraordinarily kind and patient teacher. Miss Kiet is unflappable. She makes sure the kids know she values them by saying things like "all these differences help make the world a more beautiful place." In addition to teaching Dutch, writing, and arithmetic, Miss Kiet also teaches the kids how to relate to one another (Haya in particular has impulse-control issues), listens to their fears (Jorj can't sleep, has headaches, and remembers scary aspects of his family's homeland), and encourages them to play well with their Dutch schoolmates, too.

While Miss Kiet is the protagonist, the kids are the real stars. Watching them write in their workbooks, do their daily exercises, have class meetings, and play in the schoolyard is odd at first if you're expecting backstory or interviews, but it soon becomes riveting. American school kids (and parents) will get a kick out of comparing and contrasting their own school activities with Miss Kiet's Dutch school; even the giant erasers are amusing. The kids misbehave a bit and have interpersonal challenges, but it's extraordinary to explore how they eventually open up to Kiet, sharing bits and pieces of their lives. A lesson in empathy and compassion, this documentary is sure to delight viewers.

Movie Details

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