Reading, writing, math, science, history, geography, languages… with so many curriculum areas to address, it’s tempting to leave current events out of your daily or weekly homeschooling routine. After all, what could the news possibly contribute to your child’s education?
Actually, a lot. The study of current events rates as one of the most important areas of the curriculum to explore on a regular basis. Here are ten reasons why:
1. Current events touch on many subjects, adding relevance to all areas of the curriculum. For example, students learn how vaccinations work in science – but they can understand the importance of this topic best when they look at the current polio outbreak in Asia, or the measles outbreak in B.C. this spring.
2. Current events are inherently engaging. Real-life issues and events capture your student’s interest in a way that textbook writing rarely can, because youth can relate to what’s happening in their community, their country, and the world.
3. Studying current events is empowering. Students want to know about the issues and events they hear their parents and others discussing. When they understand what’s happening in the world, their curiosity is satisfied and they gain confidence by contributing their own thoughts and opinions.
4. Want your kids to vote when they’re adults? Follow the news with them now, as children. Helping them to understand of the concept of political parties, platforms, and issues will make it far more likely that they’ll be lining up to express their opinion at the ballot box as soon as they’re able. Fostering an interest in current events is key to developing active citizens.
5. Studying the news greatly increases students’ background knowledge – and depth and breadth of background knowledge is closely tied to academic success. The more background knowledge students have to draw from, the easier it is for them to form connections and grasp key concepts when they come across new information.
6. Print and online current events publications provide great sources of authentic, non-fiction text. Use them to examine good quality non-fiction writing, and to help your developing reader learn how to use text features like headlines, subheaders, photos, and captions to enhance understanding.
7. News stories contain rich and specialized vocabulary that students need to understand as their subject area studies become more focused. Interacting with current events stories now will help ensure students have the vocabulary they’ll need to succeed later.
8. Current events provide meaningful dinner table conversation, and a chance for parents to communicate family values. What do you think about oil pipelines? How do you believe Canada should respond when a developing country experiences a devastating natural disaster? Share your thoughts with your children, then honour them by being interested in what they have to say in return.
9. Current events are excellent for promoting critical thinking. Help your students understand an issue or event, then ask them to make inferences, predict what might happen next, or give their opinion on a topic and support it with evidence.
10. Current events are a great way to get kids to look outside of themselves. Want your students to develop empathy? Have them read about some of the challenges others face in this world – and then help them plan and follow through on making a difference. You won’t just be teaching them about current events – you’ll be nurturing caring, compassionate leaders along the way.
Janet Wieczorek is the managing editor at LesPlan Educational Services Ltd., a teacher-run Canadian company that provides schools and homeschools with three ready-to-use current events resources: The Canadian Reader, What in the World?, and Currents4Kids. Find out more about LesPlan and the company’s products at www.lesplan.com. Inquire about pricing for homeschools by calling 1-888-240-2212 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.