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Do you discuss current events in your homeschool? Are you nervous about how to tackle news of the world with your children? Do you have the resources you need to begin? As our children have gotten older, their interest in the news and the world around them has increased. Here are a few tips on How to Use Current Events in Your Homeschool.
Why Use Current Events in Your Homeschool
It is true that the news from around the world and even in our own cities, towns, and neighborhoods can be pretty sobering. Much of it is not suitable for young minds. So, why approach current events in our homeschools?
- Raises awareness of other cultures and issues that others face
- Gives a safe environment to discuss sensitive topics- our kids see headlines in all sorts of places
- Allows you, as a parent, to approach events from the perspective of your family’s worldview and values
- Prepares older students for being good citizens- prepared to vote on policy
Approaching Current Events with Younger Students
Obviously, the younger the child, the more sensitive they can be to what you watch and listen to or even discuss at the dinner table. I suggest a careful approach to Current Events with younger children and as they grow, adding more information and details.
- Find safe outlets for seeing news– I’ve listed resources below. Most are for middle and high school, but some are for younger students.
- Tell about Current Events yourself– You can be the story teller when it comes to imparting news.
- Share positive news & events– We are only young once. Preserving innocence is not a bad thing. Share the good news and celebrate people’s good choices.
- Carefully share negative & scary news items– without detail. We would often approach news like this by telling our kids we wanted to pray for the situation. God is always bigger than the news.
- Simply answer your kids’ questions– Many times Current Events are discussed at our house because one of our kids asks a question. Answer the question and don’t feel like you have to add every detail of every story.
- As your children grow, so can your sharing of the news– Middle schoolers can handle more than primary kids. Knowing your student will help you to decide when it’s time for more authentic news resources.
Using Current Events with High School Students
When our kids are in high school, it’s time to have them engaging with Current Events regularly. By the time they head off to college or begin preparing for their first presidential election (our oldest will vote in the next one!), you want well informed, knowledgeable young men and women ready for what’s ahead. How do you go about it?
- Make it part of their high school curriculum– Simply require it.
- Discuss Current Events with your student– This goes a long way with our teens. Encourage dialogue about anything from simple ideas to complex and controversial topics.
- Research something they have a question about– So many times the news puts us into action to figure out why policy was made or what brought the people involved to this point in history.
- Have them keep tabs on the news– Using resources below and others we can all think of, have your teen bring something to the table to discuss with the family.
Ways We Use Current Events in Our Homeschool
- Dinner Time Conversation– Much of the events of the world come up at dinner time. Many times our kids will ask if there is anything going on in the news that they should know about. The older they get, the more they want to know.
- Embedded into Homeschool Projects– What better way to make a project meaningful than to include how something affects us today? Our 11th grader is writing a biology research paper. He chose the hot topic of the Ebola virus and he’s comparing it with the Bubonic Plague. It grew out of knowing how devastating the Plague was with the quickly growing epidemic of Ebola. He’s made his biology assignment much more meaningful by choosing a current event as a topic.
- Geography Studies– It’s fun to understand the current affairs of any culture you study. As we pursue world geography, we look for the regions we are studying in the news. We are using NorthStar Geography by Bright Ideas Press. As we build our atlas and discover new places and cultures, we can keep our eyes out for world news in these areas.
- Earth Science Studies– Have you noticed there’s a lot of geological events in the news right now? In just a few weeks, I’ve seen headlines involving an earthquake and two volcanoes and three different areas of the world. We’re studying earth science this year and I keep track of the current geological activity on my Earth Science Pinterest Board. We can revisit them later on as we get to them throughout the year.
- Regular Discussion– based on anything from a headline seen at the store and any questions they ask.
Student Resources for Current Events
I’ve come across several websites which provide a way for students to connect with current events. Personally, I like these sites not because they entirely filter news, but they seems to filter news from the gossip. I might have to start reading the CNN student page rather than the main news page. Lately, CNN resembles the tabloids more than a legitimate news outlet.
The Learning Network: Teaching & Learning with the New York Times– A blog devoted to teaching materials based on the content of The New York Times. There are teacher and student resources along with a variety of ways for students to interact with the community there. Visit the section on How to Use This Blog to find out more.
CNN Student News– This little gem has news for middle and high schoolers grouped in one place with links to various hot topics. There are ways to for students to interact and send news to this site as well.
CNN Student News Show– A 10 minute, commercial free, news program for middle and high school students. The producers give the warning to watch it before you show it to your students so that you know everything is appropriate for your student audience. That is good advice!
This Day in History– from The History Channel’s website. Somewhat ironic, I suppose, to choose a website all about history to encourage kids to engage in current events. However, often events in history make us ask questions about events that are happening right now. The opposite is also true. Current events take us back in time to learn the context for the issue today. Using This Day in History can help spark questions about events in the daily news.
God’s World News– If you are looking for a conservative Christian worldview on the news, this is the online home of World Magazine. You can find websites for all the levels of the news from young children through adults.
Time for Kids– A news website for kids from Time Magazine. This is a great site for elementary and early middle school students to learn about current events. You can choose various categories of news just like the sites for older kids. You might enjoy other sections of the site which has a lot of information for kids.
Google Plus Hangout with Bright Ideas Press- Using Current Events in Your Homeschool
Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 3pm EDT, Tyler Hogan, from Bright Ideas Press, and I will be live with Jimmie Lanley as our host. We’ll be discussing how to incorporate current events into your homeschool day. Feel free to listen live or come back to listen later.
There are a lot of creative ways to approach Current Events. The important thing is to talk about them with your kids especially as they enter high school and the teens years.
Do you have a favorite news outlet to use with your kids? Name it in the comments!