Your kids may not be excited to watch a news broadcast or read a newspaper — if you still subscribe to one. You don't need to go the traditional route to get your kids interested in what's going on in the world around them.
Here are some tips to help you connect with your child while teaching her about current events in the larger world.
1. Make her computer time include a visit to a news site.
Perhaps you begin your time at a computer browsing an Internet news site — just before you check Facebook and then finally get to work! You can help your kids get into a similar habit, since the Internet will probably end up being her primary source for news and current events.
There are several news websites geared to kids, such as Time magazine's Time For Kids or GoGo News, which has kid-oriented stories and an easy-to-browse interface. Newsela, which is available to schools and families, adapts current news stories to different reading levels to help kids improve their comprehension skills.
This great list by Common Sense Media has more news websites for kids that organizes resources by age.
2. Focus on your child's life and interests.
Is your child taking a Spanish class? You could research and talk about current events in Latin America and Spain. If your daughter is a soccer nut, you could introduce all the news related to the World Cup and its stadiums. If your kid loves sports in general, talk about the country that's hosting the next Olympics.
Just think about what your kid is into, and link it to something in the larger world. Your child is sure to take an interest.
3. Use what's "trending."
If you're on Facebook or Twitter, you can check out what's currently trending; a lot of popular stories are appropriate to share with children. You can even explain the concept of "trends" and things that “go viral.” Your child will probably be fascinated with the idea that a news item is widely popular and being shared over and over. You can even ask her why she thinks this item is appealing to a huge number of people.
To get you thinking further, follow this link for articles recommending books and educational activities tied to holidays.
4. Share news via email.
If you see a great news item that would fascinate your child, send her a link via text message or e-mail. Young kids who are just getting used to managing their own account are especially excited to receive new messages in their inbox. You can show her how to click the link to be taken to the larger story.
5. Talk about news stories that you find interesting.
You can talk about current events at the dinner table. Or if that feels too formal, bring a story up while you're driving to hockey practice or home from school. Find the time to spend a few minutes talking to your kids about the important or interesting stories of the day.
Some stories may be especially sensitive or difficult to discuss with your kids. There are ways to talk to your child about tragedies in an age-appropriate maner.
6. Watch news broadcasts with your child.
This can be a hard sell. Your child probably doesn't want to bunk in and watch the “PBS NewsHour” with you. And frankly, many local broadcasts are filled with the kind of mayhem your kids may not be ready for.
There's nothing wrong with watching short, prescreened videos on national or local news websites. If you do it together, your kids learn that news is important and you'll be able to discuss the story afterward.
7. Talk about what she learned.
Encourage your child to express her opinion. It's good for her to learn about news stories that have multiple issues or angles. Granted, the complexities are going to be hard for her to understand, but that's where you come in. Your perspective can help ground her as you break the issue down. And healthy debate will be great for your child. It builds the kind of sharp communication skills she’ll need as she grows older.
Check out our series on other ways to sneak learning into everyday life, tailored to your child’s interest.