The global news of the day would happen in a vacuum for kids without the context that social studies teachers — and parents — provide in their lives.
“Parents — they’re such a resource in checking out the news every night,” said Jeff Anderson, a teacher at Rhodes Junior High School in Mesa. “Then they can go to their kids and say ‘Hey, check out the Middle East, find out why gas prices are so high.’ ”
Anderson used older news stories and statistics to guide seventh-graders through a lesson on the Middle East last week, comparing nations on the basis of wealth, religion, resources and longevity.
He included Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and other hot spots, but didn’t get wrapped up in the news of the day.
Nicholas Everetts, 12, said he often doesn’t watch the news, but when he does, the things Anderson teaches him can help him comprehend the forces behind car bombings or other events in the Middle East.
Parents, too, can help students view current events with perspective.
TIPS FOR PARENTS
• Keep up with the news, as hard as it can be sometimes.
“There are a lot of scenes about car bombs and other stuff people may not want to watch, but if they can sit through all of that, they get to learn about global economics and all the news, and you get the news and pictures, and faces come to life,” said teacher Jeff Anderson.
• Encourage kids to keep up on the news.
“Parents can steer their kids through any news program,” Anderson said. “As for kids alone, I think you’re looking at the sixth grade where they can start to understand it.”
Rhodes social studies teacher Jeannine Kuropatkin says the Internet can bring the world to life for kids. She recommends parents direct students to www.earthcache.org to explore the Earth’s surface and the surprises it has in store. And at www.nationalatlas.gov, students can choose what information to display on a map of the United States, and connect their own dots indicating where people choose to live and work.