It’s often the best half-hour of my week. And a lot of the kids – and the parents – tell me they look forward to the class.
What I do is pretty simple; you can do it, too. Either at your kids’ school (especially if they’ve got an open-minded teacher like ours) or just at home.
What it will do for your kid is to get him interested in reading the newspaper, following news stories and learning about what’s going on in the world. You’ll be helping him develop a life-long habit of curiosity and general knowledge.
Here’s what I do
I read the newspapers for a week. Simple – most of us do it anyway. So at the end of the week I know stuff, like that Kim Jong-Il died, and that there’s a problem in Syria, and that Sidney Crosby’s out of the game again, and that Justin Bieber’s in Toronto doing a charity concert. In other words – the news.
Then, once a week, I tell the kids about it.
And although it’s a class of grade fours and fives, when I’m talking about the news you can hear a pin drop. That’s because kids are very interested in knowing what’s happening.
In half an hour I might do six or seven stories. The most important thing I do is to use my “adult” knowledge of the world and put events in context. For instance, when an adult reads “Kim Jong-Il has died,” we think “uh-oh – what will that mean for South Korea?” Whereas kids think, “What is a Kim Jong-Il?”
So I open by explaining that there’s a country in Asia called North Korea, and for 17 years it’s been run by guy named Kim Jong-Il… and I explain. I don’t get too graphic and I certainly avoid scary stuff – and I try to point out the positives. For instance, in this case to illustrate his eccentric nature I tell them about how Kim Jong-Il used to dress up as Elvis and sing Blue Suede Shoes. The kids laugh but then they quickly jump to the understanding that if the leader of your country is doing that stuff, it may be amusing but it’s probably not good.
One of the kids in the class is now working on a news website himself. He wants to become a journalist. My son is thinking about a career as a sports journalist. Other kids in the class go home and talk about the news with their parents. One time, I had a parent come up to me and say, “my son explained to me what the G8 is!” So that’s pretty fun.
More than that, the kids are reading. Reading. Seeing newspapers as relevant to them, and not just boring adult stuff.
Since newspapers are not specifically kid-friendly, I point kids to our website, TeachingKidsNews.com, which offers daily kid-friendly news articles. You certainly don’t have to use this website, but if you need kid-friendly news articles, it’s always appropriate. Plus, it’s free.
However you do it, introduce your kids to the news. You’ll quickly find out that they want to know what’s happening in the world, and not just what the toy companies tell them is important. And it’ll get them reading.