Everybody reads how ill-informed our children are about history and current events. With all of the surrounding electronic noise to distract them, it’s not surprising. But do I require them to follow events and if so, to what extent?
I believe that children can’t become fully productive adults if they have no clue of what the surrounding world is like. National history, politics, current and economic events don’t have the cachet of Britney or the excitement of American Idol. Not to mention that it’s frequently disquieting. In this household, I don’t expect them to follow the daily news but I do discuss the news at the dinner table and around the house. Last evening, we sat at the dinner table and I asked if they knew what would happen the following day; fortunately, they knew that Barack Obama was being inaugurated and the significance of the event. They weren’t certain that they would see any of it in school but I was pleased to find that TV sets were available and on for the event.
They were also told last night that they shouldn’t expect to see anything on television after school except for the inauguration and the subsequent hoopla.
That’s the exception to the rule, however. I don’t require them to read the paper or follow the news unless we know of some special or extraordinary event. The drumbeat of the media bearing bad news is discouraging even for adults, so I take the tack that it’s my job to follow current events and then pass that along to them until they show readiness and awareness. The positive to this approach is that we can cushion the bad news and provide assurance to rattled kids. The flip side is that they are unfamiliar with various news sources and "how" to read and listen. It sounds over-protective – especially coming from me – but I’d prefer that they go through news with me to gain some perspective. And the first is old enough to start lessons on following the news, much to that child’s chagrin.