By Ginger Heller
When was the last time you had a discussion with your youngster about events taking place in the news: the oil wells that blow up in Libya, a gold mine strike in South Africa, the political turmoil in Somalia? Have you ever asked your child what he/she thinks about any of these events and how the events might have an effect on him or her?
Here are five things you can do with your children so that they’ll understand what’s going on in the world:
• Find an Article in the News.
Show the news article to your youngster and read it together. Newspapers, magazines and information from radio and television that is streaming into your house provide wonderful starting points for discussions, too.
• Locate Where the Event Is Taking Place.
Use a map, or better yet, a globe to show the child where in the world a news story is occurring. Each time you locate where a current event takes place, you are helping your child explore the world.
• Discuss What’s Happening.
Ask questions about a news story such as: Why do you think this happened? What could be going on? How do you think the people involved in the situation feel? Why? In other words, discuss the possible “back story”– what could be happening behind the scenes?
Inquire with your youngster what else might be happening. If you can find a news story that involves children, you might ask whether these youngsters have the same opportunities and prospects for the future as your child does. What can you do that might, in some small way, make a difference now or years down the road?
• Ask Open-Ended Questions
Based on a news story, ask your child questions that can lead to further discussion. For example, you might probe a bit: How does learning this make you feel? What did you think about when …? What makes you say that? If you were one of the people involved in this event, what would you do? Did you find this article interesting? Did it make you wonder or worry? Why? How does the news story affect the world and the people in it?
Make sure to also give your own opinion after you hear from the child. Young people need to know what you think and why. They may disagree with you, and that’s okay. Also ask what piece of information in the article or in their own lives leads them to believe as they do.
• Try to Make This a Weekly Event
This is perhaps the most important point. Talk to your children frequently about news events and places in the world. Ask them for their opinions. Show them that these occurrences affect them now, and can affect them in the future, as well. If you do this on a regular basis, you will be amazed at the improvement in your child’s vocabulary, critical thinking, and global understanding.
These five suggestions will help you bring your youngster into a more grown-up place, and to be more seriously aware of the world.
A wonderful by-product of this engagement, and perhaps its greatest gift, is that it provides a vehicle for communication. You will get to know your child better and your child will get to know you. It can be quite enlightening and satisfying, and hopefully, can become a time that both of you look forward to spending together.
Ginger Heller is the author of “Marco Polo Blackberry.” For more information, visit www.MarcoPoloBlackberry.com.
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