Did you know that there is no better teaching method than hands-on or by example? This is true in almost any subject area, and all of life.
Telling children to pick up after themselves is great; demonstrating it on a daily basis shows them how nice it is. Describing how to grow tomatoes is interesting (maybe), but growing them together is a fascinating (and delicious) lesson!
Your worldview is the same way. Current events are almost all connected to your worldview. There are so many educational opportunities available in the news today. No matter where your children receive their education, you can make this a regular part of life. If you homeschool, I could make the case that your entire homeschooling curriculum could start with the news, and provide endless rabbit trails from there.
So, how does this work?
I’m glad you asked! I’ll share some examples with you from our own home.
In case you’re new here, let me begin by saying that we are a conservative, Christian family, and everything we teach our children is from this perspective. The Bible is our guide for life, and the U.S. Constitution is our guide for America. If you agree, read on!
An election is a great opportunity to learn civics, history, and government. At our house, every single child knows the names of the Presidential candidates, some Congressmen, and a few other key political figures. We watch the televised debates together (it’s not required, but everyone is usually in the room).
We’ve had lots of talks about why there is a Primary election, what delegates are, the Electoral College, and the nominating process. We’ve talked about Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Socialists. We’ve talked about the powers the President has (according to the Constitution), and if their campaign promises match up with their enumerated powers.
With the recent (2016) coup in Turkey, we explained what was happening, what a coup is, and whether this one might be good or bad. We talked about the fact that Turkey is the seat of the Ancient Ottoman Empire, and the history of the Ottoman Turks and Islam.
Countries around the world practice varying forms of capitalism and socialism (including America). Some are clearly capitalist, some are clearly socialist. Venezuela is a perfect example of what happens, gradually, to a socialist country. It’s not pretty. It’s not equal.
Freedom comes in many different forms, and these are evidenced the world over. The most extreme communism is probably found in North Korea. Many “free” societies are actually very limited in their freedoms (including America). Watch for stories about laws restricting normal daily life (light bulbs, water use, gun control, car emissions, etc.).
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This can be a doozy! So many things are lumped under the category of “science” these days. Weather, archaeology, animals, medicine, and babies: these are just a few of the ways beliefs are attacked and threatened. Watch for news on these things, read them, discuss with your family, debate, and find the answer in God’s word.
And this is where it all comes full circle. Every subject above culminates here. This is why it’s so important to discuss all of these issues with your children in a casual setting, guided by loving, informed parents.
Do your children understand the differences between capitalism and socialism? Do your teens have any idea who they might vote for when they reach 18? Do they know why? Do they understand the “global warming” issue?
Start Young Children of all ages are capable of thinking about big things. Preschoolers are ready to learn a Biblical worldview, creation, and exciting stories of freedom. They can definitely memorize short Bible verses. Elementary-aged children can learn world history and geography, the limits on freedom in various countries, read biographies of Christian heroes and freedom fighters, learn the differences between creation and evolution, and how the election process works. Teenagers are capable of understanding much of what goes on in the world, and understanding how a worldview affects everything.
Point Out the Tie-Ins Between Historic Events and Current Events
Islamic terror has its roots in a very old ideology, and is only resurrecting a centuries-old practice. When studying World History, we read about the beginning of Islam, the many world events influenced or caused by it, and point out the similarities to today.
The 2nd Amendment is challenged in every state and in Washington D.C. repeatedly. Why do we have it? What did the founders intend? History always sheds light on current events.
American culture is a cesspool. What similarities do we have to Ancient Rome?
One of the most common problems I witness in online discussions is a lack of critical thinking. Knee-jerk reactions are the norm. A well thought out comment is like a breath of fresh air! Following a trend instead of forming a stand based on wisdom is dangerous and foolish.
Want an easy way to learn the critical thinking process? Read this book with your family. It’s simple and fun, and is definitely an eye-opener.
Find Trusted Sources for News
In order to casually educate your children in current events, you need to know what they are. : ) Now, I know that news is depressing. It can make you feel like there is no hope. But keep it in perspective. When you do as I stated above, and look at news in light of history, it’s easy to see that “there’s nothing new under the sun.” God is great, and He is eternal. Nothing surprises Him. So, stay informed, and inform your children.
Some of my trusted sources are Heritage Foundation, Conservative Review, and Ken Ham — to name a few. I follow these organizations on Facebook to get constant updates on news. I also follow organizations I don’t always agree with. This enables me to get news, and to also see what people with differing viewpoints are saying. Twitter is also a good source. Breaking news typically shows up there first, if you’re following the right people.
For commentary on the culture, I like Matt Walsh. His commentary is unapologetic, and the comments on his posts are perfect examples of my next point:
Show examples online
I see a lot of good debate online. Sometimes it’s exhausting, but it’s very educational. Online discussion is a perfect way to expose your kids to what they will definitely encounter later.
When I see a discussion online that has debate from two opposing sides, I will share it with my teens for educational purposes. I ask them to debate the topic in their head, or tell me why “so and so” is right or wrong. I ask them what the Bible says about it, or if this is Constitutional. It’s excellent practice. If you don’t have access to a speech and debate club, this is a wonderful substitute.
Encourage debate at home
Continuing in the above theme, discuss these topics together at home. Bring up news stories at the dinner table. Look them up on a map. Give your kids a comfortable, safe place to practice debate skills and voice their thoughts and opinions.
The ages of your children will determine the depth of your discussions, but every age can learn a little, and the teenagers can learn so much! You will have to determine what is appropriate for each aged child in your home.
An example of this process happened recently in our home. When the Turkish military attempted a coup, we watched a little of the news coverage. In simple terms, we explained what a coup was, and how it could be for good or for evil. In this case, it appeared that the military was trying to overthrow a Muslim ruler who had become progressively more dictatorial. The freedom of the Turkish people was slowly being eroded by a ruler who was taking them back to the Dark Ages. So we prayed for the people of Turkey and for their freedom from oppression.
The coup was unsuccessful, and by all appearances it was staged by the President to impose even tighter restrictions, and a call for Martial Law.
This story provided discussion of freedom, Islam, the Ottoman Empire (and a lot of other history), geography, governments, persecution of Christians, and martial law. That’s quite an education! All of our children, ages 5-19, were included in the conversation. The 5-year-old probably tuned most of it out, but that’s okay. The rest of the kids listened and asked questions. That’s the goal!
So, do you practice this in your home? If not, can you see yourself integrating current events in family conversations?
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