As parents, we're given the amazing privilege of introducing our kids to the world.
Now that's a mighty job, especially as we read frightening news headlines everyday. How can we teach kids about news and current events (without sharing too much)?
Although we show discernment in how and when we discuss difficult matters, I firmly believe we need to be talking to our kids about current events–regularly and from a young age.
But how can this happen? Read on to discover six helpful tips (plus some awesome resources) to help us keep our kids informed about world events.
I believe six elements are critical for success when sharing about current events:
1) Provide quality, informative resources.
2) Share a little at a time from the youngest age.
3) Listen to God's leading on how and when to share more.
4) Share the good and the bad.
5) Layer information and help kids connect the dots.
6) Encourage discussion (and stay open to ongoing questions).
Let's look at each of those, and discover how we can personalize these methods to fit our individual families.
#1: Provide Quality Informative Resources
I have long admired WORLD Magazine for their ability to intelligently discuss current events–everything from politics to changes in culture to the latest in television and the arts.
While I'm grateful for publications like WORLD that keep me informed as an adult, I'm immeasurably blessed by WORLD's offerings for kids and teens.
These three publications–God’s Big WORLD (for preschoolers), WORLDkids (for elementary-aged kids), and WORLDteen (for ages 11-14)–are incredible resources that teach kids about current events within a biblical framework.
#2: Share a Little at a Time from the Youngest Age.
They can be exposed to relevant news content that's designed to inspire, to inform and to challenge… a little at a time.
This means that kids can start thinking outside their four walls from the earliest age.
They can learn–from the start–that there's a big world out there and that it's not all about me.
Now that's an important lesson, don't you think?
#3: Listen to God's leading on how and when to share more.
There's an immense tension when considering how to share with kids about current events–How much? How soon? There's also an overarching fear: How do I preserve their innocence without keeping them in a bubble?
Only the Holy Spirit can best answer these questions, and we must trust Him to give us that insight for each child.
I appreciate that the WORLD publications have considered this in the editorial structure of their magazines. As kids get older (and move from one publication to the next) the content becomes a little less “sugar-coated” and kids are slowly introduced to more hard-hitting topics. Should parents want to explore the topic further with their kids, each issue of WORLDkids and WORLDteen has additional digital content.
On WORLDteen online, teen readers can even comment on article topics and share their insights with other teens (all within a safe, closed network).
And speaking of safety, all digital content on the sites are self-contained, meaning that kids can interact with all the content without leaving the page to go to another site, such as YouTube. This was huge for me since internet safety is a big deal in our home.
And of course, parents can choose which magazine is the best fit for their child's unique emotional, intellectual and social level–regardless of the magazine's target age. For example, I knew immediately that my overly mature 11-year-old son would relate much more to the content in WORLDteen instead of WORLDkids (made for kids ages 11-14), even though the same would not have been true of my 13-year-old son when he was eleven.
#4: Share the good and the bad.
What are some amazing new inventions that are changing our world? What wonderful stories of sacrifice and beauty are going on right under our noses? And what new facts about God's amazing creation are being discovered daily?
Good news is happening and it can be inspirational!
In fact, just today at lunch, my eleven-year-old was telling our family about the amazing article he'd read earlier in the November/December issue of WORLDteen called “Hands for Zion.” This amazing story tells of eight-year-old Zion Harvey, a hand and foot amputee, who recently underwent a hand transplant surgery! Not only does the two-page spread tell the backstory of how Zion lost his hands, feet and kidneys, it gives an illustrated account of how doctors performed this remarkable procedure.
It doesn't mean that the kid-focused WORLD publications don't talk about hard news (natural disasters, war, and politics, for example) but they are careful to soften these stories a bit (depending on the age group and the sensitivity of the topic) as compared to what would normally be in the adult publication.
#5: Layer information and help kids connect the dots.
This is where I think the WORLD publications really shine because, month after month, kids are exposed to high quality reporting about interesting, timely information in ways they find engaging.
That interaction starts from a preschool age with God's Big WORLD. Published bi-monthly, God's Big WORLD is divided into eight individual magazines (each one with short stories, along with a handful of puzzles and games) that make learning fun and informative. Like the rest of the WORLD publications, scripture is woven throughout so that kids can see how God's truth applies to each topic.
Next, WORLDkids applies some real-world context to the topics presented in God's Big WORLD. Kids are beginning to ask “why” and “how” at this age, and WORLDkids presents a slightly deeper look at current events. For example, the headline on the November/December 2015 cover is “Waves of Refugees and Migrants Keep Arriving.” The magazine also is formatted to look like a traditional news magazine with a table of contents, news shorts and longer featured articles. Colorful images and drawings (and a few quizzes and puzzles or games) are woven throughout.
WORLDteen takes learning about these current events one step further. For example, the European migrant crisis is headlined in the Table of Contents as “Refugees, Migrants, Hard Choices.” Interesting discoveries (“The Machines Have Ears”) and fascinating articles about the natural world (“Catering to Wild Cats”) fill the pages of this bi-monthly publication. And as mentioned before, teens can go online to learn more in-depth about each topic and sound off with their peers.
#6: Encourage discussion (and stay open to ongoing questions).
News is continually happening and our world is always in a state of change. The beauty of experiencing news together through these age-targeted news publications is that families can discuss world events as a group.
We can share news stories, relate them to our own lives, and challenge each other to consider what God's word says about the situation.
And just like that, news goes from being something “someone else” is experiencing to being a personal invitation to ask God, “How can I play a role in your plan for this situation?”
Whether that answer is prayer, finances or front-line involvement, this is how we can teach our kids that yes, current events matter and that our lives can have an impact on those events.
Little by little, this is how we raise the world-changers our culture desperately needs!
Special Savings on WORLD for Your Vibrant Family Readers
WORLD product subscriptions can be purchased individually or are discounted when purchased in combination together as a family membership.
Plus, WORLD has graciously shared two exclusive deals for Your Vibrant Family readers!
YVF readers can take 15% off any kids-focused WORLD publication by clicking here (no code necessary!).
You can also receive a 3 month (6 issues) free trial to WORLD magazine here.
If you're interested in raising kids who are culturally savvy, I highly encourage that you learn more about these awesome publications!
FTC Disclosure: I received products from WORLD News Group and was compensated for my time. However, all opinions stated here are 100 percent mine, and I was not required to post a positive review.
Don't miss these other posts from the Raising World Changers series:
How do you share with your kids about current events? Are you afraid of sharing too much too soon? If you have had some of these deeper discussions, how did they turn out? Share about it in the comments!