The terror of Osama Bin Laden. The death of a former First Lady. Global warming. How do you explain the tough topics to your kids? You don’t want to scare them unnecessarily, but you feel it’s one of your responsibilities to ensure that they not be ignorant of what is happening in the world around them.
“If we shelter our young people from the realities of life — some being gravely unfortunate, painful, and frightening — we are doing them a disservice. If we can present the ‘news’ to children in a developmentally appropriate manner, they can glean significant facts,” says Liz Fisher McLean, a teacher in the Master of Arts in Teaching program in early childhood education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Today’s kids are tech savvy — they have to be. So introduce them to easily digestible information in a place that is already familiar to them: Go online.
- The Washington Post Kids Post — Check out the Kids Post’s games and puzzles, science and technology stories, polls, info about the latest movies for youngsters, and more. And kids can get even more tech savvy with things like recommendations for iPad apps for kids! (The Kids Post also appears in the print version of The Washington Post – introduce your kids to this medium as well!)
- GoGo News — This easy-to-navigate site is a destination for kids who can explore stories that pique their curiosity — such as hard-to-comprehend current events — without being exposed to gory, graphic images and information or overly dissected news stories. “Elementary-aged children can learn about and understand current events in socially, emotionally, and mentally appropriate ways,” says Fisher McLean. GoGo News even dabbles in a little local art news.
- National Geographic Kids — Also in our neighborhood is the headquarters of National Geographic. Their site is dedicated to categories like people and places, animals and nature, science and space, history, and news bites. They even have a section dedicated to “little kids” with alphabet games, videos, and printable coloring pages. And, of course, NatGeo can always be counted on for fantastic photos.
Surf the information superhighway with your little ones and you’ll increase your child’s reading comprehension and understanding of the world in which they live while emphasizing the importance of being in-the-know and having empathy for their fellow citizens. “As our children grow and become more sophisticated thinkers, they are able to add to prior knowledge and further understand matters concerning our world,” says Fisher McLean.
Log on at the Germantown Library, read articles with your kids, answer the questions they have, then seek out additional resources that are right there at your fingertips.