Turning on the evening news some nights can lead to a stream of violent or upsetting images which are not appropriate for younger kids. As a consequence we have chosen not to have the news on at our house when the younger kids are around. But I do want my kids to have an understanding of what is happening in the world around them. I feel it is important for them to obtain an understanding of the relatively privileged life we have here in Australia. Only through knowing how others live and the issues they face can they develop empathy and a willingness to want to help.
To find a balance between keeping the kids informed and filtering the information that they see, I have sought alternative news sources. There are many great resources that you can use to keep kids up to date with world news, that have been specifically designed for kids. They explain complex terms in simplified language so kids can understand the core meaning of the story. Here are a few of our favourites:
Behind The News
The Behind The News (BTN) program is almost an Australian icon. I remember watching this as a child at school. Unfortunately neither my 9 or 11 year old are watching it at school, so I record it each week for them to watch. BTN describes it self as “a high-energy, fun way for upper primary and secondary students to learn about current issues and events in their world.”
It screens weekly during school terms Tuesdays, on ABC1 at 10am and Wednesdays on ABC1 at 10.30am. If you are not in Australia you can watch full episodes online via the videos section. Each episode has a Teacher’s Resource, which can be freely accessed by parents. Resources each week include activities for specific stories, discussion questions and a transcript of the featured stories.
The questions provided are excellent and help extend cricitical and analytical thinking of kids. Here are the questions from a story earlier this year on Blood Diamonds:
1. Discuss the main issues raised in the Blood diamonds story.
2. What do diamonds symbolise in our society? Think about images and references in advertising, movies, songs and magazines.
3. What was the cause of the civil war in some parts of Africa?
4. During the civil war, diamonds were often swapped for _____________.
5. How were kids involved in the conflict?
6. Explain the term `blood diamond’.
7. What happened when the world found out about blood diamonds?
8. How do consumers know that they are purchasing `conflict free’ diamonds?
9. Describe Naomi Campbell’s involvement with blood diamonds.
10. How did this story make you feel?
For those of you on twitter you can follow BTN at BehindTheNews.
Scholastic News Online
Scholastic News Online is an interactive onilne news magazine. It is American based, but it does cover world news in both short news bulletins and more in depth reports as illustrated in these two recent examples:
For those who use an RSS reader you can keep up to date with all the latest news with Scholastic News Online RSS Feed.
What other sources do you use to keep kids up to date with world news?