For students of many ages, current events can offer a variety of important learning opportunities. They can teach children about history and its effects on the world today, as well as prepare them for the future. Furthermore, understanding current events can help your student become a more informed citizen and a stronger community member. What else can current events do?
They can teach critical thinking
t One of the best things you can do with current events is discuss them with your child. If a story in the news affects you, explain why it is meaningful or why it inspires such strong emotions in you. If a current event affects your student, ask her to explain why. The only way your child can learn to navigate the many complex, and sometimes conflicting, layers of any news story is with guidance. Prompt your student to share her opinions. Challenge her to think of a second side to the argument, as well as to connect the current event to her own life. Doing so is an excellent way to develop critical thinking skills.
They can foster media literacy
t Current events are presented in numerous formats and drawn from numerous sources. Deciding which sources to believe and which to approach with caution is a difficult skill. Why not introduce it to your child at a young age? For example, consider comparing news stories about the same event to see if they cover different facts or utilize a different tone. Does each story cite reliable sources? Do they rely on fact or opinion? Teaching your student about media literacy can have tremendous academic and social benefit.
They can lead to community involvement
t Certain current events inspire us to take action, and your child may wish to know how she can help. Assist her by suggesting volunteer options or by volunteering alongside her. You can donate, march or simply speak out. These opportunities provide not only a way for your student to make a difference, but also a way to further research the current event and its background. They can even enable your child to learn about how change occurs and how people’s voices are heard.
They can demonstrate cause and effect
t Current events do not exist in a vacuum; instead, they grow from historical precedent and social pressure. Consider helping your student identify the causes and effects of a particular news story. Can she pinpoint the “Five W’s” (who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why)? This can be difficult to accomplish; often, there are many forces at work. It is OK to acknowledge this with your child. You can also take the opposite approach. You can turn to past events and connect them to today’s happenings. For instance, @NYTArchives on Twitter posts old news stories on a frequent basis. With your student, explore what has changed and what remains the same. What effect did this occurrence have on later events? Has history repeated itself, and if this is negative, how can we prevent it from doing so again?
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