Has your child ever asked you how something he must study is ever relevant to real life? When will I ever use this? OK – maybe you won’t find these questions in the elementary grades, but by the time kids get to algebra, they will certainly be asking that question. Do you have answers for them? Addressing current events and media reports relating to those events will give you opportunities to show your children that what they are learning is relevant to the big world around them.
What Are Current Events?
Current events cover all things happening in the world today. Scientific discoveries, political events, business relationships, technological advancements are all connected to and part of current events. And believe it or not, these events have definite and measurable effects on our lives. Maybe not directly, but even happenings on the other side of the world will, sooner or later, affect you.
Why Should We Discuss Current Events with Our Children?
When I was a kid, I avoided listening to the news as much as possible. I just wanted music! When I went to college, I frequently felt like I lived in a remote world with no connection to reality. Study, practice, work – that was all there was in my little world. Unless some major earth-shattering event happened and everyone talked about it, I had no clue what was occurring in the outside world.
While we don’t need to expose our children to every bad thing in the news today, I feel it is important for them to have some basic understanding of what is happening in our world. Here are some reasons we should give our children an understanding of the world news happening around us.
- Children need to see that their education matters, need to see that learning allows them to function in a higher manner in our world.
- Also, our children may be more incentivized to learn if they can understand how their education relates to world events.
- The world around us needs problem-solvers and thinkers.
- Every aspect of the world, politics, and business needs ethical leaders.
- By discussing world events with our children, we can help them place things in a Biblical context, within a Biblical framework and context.
- Children need to learn how world events will affect them – either now or in the long-term.
How Do I Integrate Current Events into my Homeschool?
So, how can you teach about current events? Or connect current events to our school studies? And how do you do this and keep the kids interested? And, remember this, these discussions do not need to happen only during school hours. Include them in dinner discussions, while watching the news, whenever they occur!
Start by having age-appropriate discussions during meal times. Even young children might be fascinated to learn about new animal babies at a local zoo. Or a new medical treatment that might benefit them, a friend, or a relative. Older students might enjoy hearing news about technology developments. Or the political views of their favorite musician. Perhaps a new government policy will directly affect them – talk about it!
Incorporate them into your actual school studies. Here are some suggestions listed by subject matter to help you accomplish that. Of course, discretion and age-appropriateness are always important considerations!
- Read a news article and find all the grammatical errors.
- Read news articles and discuss the writing styles used.
- Also, what kind of writing is used in an article? Argumentative? Persuasive? Descriptive? Compare/Contrast?
- Talk about the difference between fact and opinion writing.
- You can also discuss “bias” and have students read articles and comment on bias or lack of bias evident in the article.
- Look for new vocabulary used in the news. Is it industrial jargon? Talk about language and language usage. You can also discuss strong words, power verbs, poetic language, descriptive language.
- Look for and point out literary references used in news articles.
- Read and talk about scientific processes for making new vaccines or medications. Outline the different clinical trials and stages for getting FDA approval for new medical treatments. Also, you may have them research and chart different phases of trials currently underway.
- You could study environmental issues. Have them find data and chart out changes in carbon emissions over several decades. Or changes in ocean temperatures. Or variations in water levels in the Great Lakes.
- How do different diseases spread? Map out the progression of the current pandemic. Study and list out methods of viral spread. Research and report on best practices for containing the spread of a virus.
- What qualifies a contagion event as a pandemic? Define pandemic. Research and report on other pandemics. What factors contribute to the spread during different pandemics?
- Read about different weather events and how those events impacted people’s lives. What types of weather events are likely to affect you?
- Keep a daily weather chart or graph of sky conditions, precipitation, wind direction, and speed.
- Always have a map or globe available! Big maps, world maps, local maps, atlases – whatever form you prefer, have maps!
- Use your maps to locate where world events occur. Point out different geographical conditions that could affect that event.
- How far away is the location of an event from you? How could an event so far away impact your life?
- What affect does geography have on causing or preventing war?
- How do events from centuries in the past impact world events today?
- Talk about primary source materials, what they are, and why they are the best source for accurate information.
- At the same time, discuss variations in eye-witness accounts.
- Study mob rule/mob action in the past and the results of that.
- You may also read about the history of scientific discoveries and the scientific method. How does that affect science today?
- Look at candidate statements and study history to see if their statements are based on fact or rumor. Or if/how their positions have changed over time.
- Presidential election years offer great opportunities for integrating current events with your school curriculum. Between the debates, the candidates’ political statements, the party platforms, and all the news cycles connected to the election, you have innumerable opportunities for discussing current events!
- Talk about differences between the various political and economic systems.
- What rights are guaranteed under the First and Second Amendments? What do those amendments really say, and why do they matter? Point out court cases related to those amendments.
- Discuss the US court system. What is the difference between state courts and federal courts? How do people get chosen or elected to different courts? What is the role of the US Supreme Court? How does one become a Supreme Court Justice? Also, consider how cases get to the Supreme Court, and how does it choose which cases to hear?
- All students will benefit from understanding how the electoral process works.
- Use numbers provided by health departments and calculate Covid-19 positivity rates. Also, be sure to discuss the equations required to complete those calculations.
- How about discussing national debt, financing, and how debt affects financial health.
- Use estimating skills to calculate grocery costs. What events have happened that affect the prices of groceries? Why do these events impact cost? I am afraid that not many adults have figured this out!
- Discuss minimum wage. Does raising a minimum wage affect job availability or unemployment numbers? Why? Graph connections between mandated wage increases and unemployment.
- Talk about taxes! What are taxes? How much do you really pay in taxes? If property, or income, or sales taxes increase, how will that affect you? If a local sales tax increases, calculate how much that will add to the cost of a new car you are hoping to buy.
- What difference do interest rates have on purchasing power or savings accounts? What about interest rates and credit card balances? These are important things for kids to learn!
Instead of just teaching children what to think, give them guiding principles, and teach them how to think.
One final suggestion:
Focus your current events discussions and target your child’s areas of interest. My youngest son is interested in politics, civics, and technology. I frequently direct his attention to articles related to Tesla, Elon Musk, SpaceEx, etc. We also talk about technology related to finances (Robinhood, anyone?), medicine (Covid-19 vaccines and treatments), other electric vehicle companies, alternative energy companies, and the like.
When it comes to politics these days, there is no shortage of news to look at! My son is a kid who hosts political debate watch parties with his friends. We are always looking at political stories!
In conclusion, your children will be more interested in current events if they understand how these events directly relate to themselves or their particular interests. Teach them the importance of looking at many sides of an issue and coming to their own opinions. Also, if you have a Biblical worldview, teach your children how to evaluate all the issues from a Biblical perspective. You will be molding them into persons who can think and evaluate issues. And our world must have people who can reason and think things through instead of just parrot what someone else says!
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