Saturday, October 8, 2016

For the Love of Current Affairs

I am constantly on the lookout for interesting topics that I can discuss with my children. I have seen too many people around us who are uninterested and indifferent to matters that do not directly impact their immediate lives. I hope to raise my kids differently.

For our children to thrive in this rapidly changing world, they have to first learn to be curious, to ask the right questions before they can figure out the right answers. Only then, will they even have the chance to make the world a better place. A lofty goal, some may think, but how can we undermine the young minds' potential? How can we believe that a young child today will not and cannot grow up to be a mover of the world? It all must start from somewhere. Like I always say - from tiny acorns, mighty oak trees grow. 

Students are so bogged down by schoolwork and demands of extra-curricular activities that most will not have the time nor the inclination to explore and read up on whatever is happening in the world. Though the primary schools introduce Social Studies as a subject, but the fact that it does not require students to sit for an exam means many teachers/students do not treat the subject with enough respect. Still, I think Social Studies has its place in a holistic education.

As a parent who sees the importance of teaching kids to be curious about the world they live in, as opposed to just learning enough Math and Science to ace the school exams, I see it as my responsibility to open my children's eyes and minds.

We do not need to wait till the kids are able to read newspapers or be interested in watching the news before we introduce them to current affairs. Children will not know what they do not know. Hence they will not be interested in anything unless they are first exposed to it and be given the chance to learn more about it. 

At home, I am usually the parent to start the ball rolling. Mealtimes is one of my favourite times to introduce topics or issues for discussions with my kids. During our drives to and from school is another great opportunity since I have a captive audience.

Sometimes, the kids would just listen with little to contribute. Very often, they would ask reflective questions. In recent years, we often ended up with lively debates as well. I love that through these discussions, I have the opportunities to shape my children's beliefs and show them alternative perspectives to problems/issues and in the process teach them higher order thinking skills and sharpen their ability to communicate.

I started introducing bite-sized topics for discussions since my boys were just 3 or 4 years old. A 3-year-old may not understand issues about war or famine if we explain in adult terms. A 5-year-old may find it hard to fathom impacts of terrorism or natural disasters, but I believe it is always a matter of choosing appropriate phrases to describe and explain a situation.

With the help of the Internet, some creativity on our part and a generous dose of patience, it is not hard to engage our young minds and nurture their interests in current affairs. It is not all gloomy too. Current affairs can be of positive and cheery news as well, such as the human spirit and efforts of environmentalists in saving endangered species etc.

In the beginning, young children may have little to contribute, either because they are unaware of their own feelings and thoughts or they are learning to make sense of what they are exposed to. My goal however, is to bring them from this initial phase to the next stage of forming their personal opinions and to be able to express what they feel/think. Then, they will be ready to consider others' opinions and reflect on them, before they learn to persuade others to see their viewpoints.

This is a critical thinking process that is totally accessible to young children. However, it does not come naturally to all which is why even some adults may struggle through the process.

If we teach children how to think by guiding them through the process and teaching them how to question, they will learn to think with ease as they gain experience.

New Lapbooking Class 
In November, From Tiny Acorns will conduct our first 3-days workshop for K2 to Primary 2 students (age 6 to 8) specifically incorporating current affairs into our Bright Minds Lapbooking programme.
Through the tale of an endearing spider's life journey, our 6 to 8-year-old participants will be treated to an exciting and experiential three sessions where we introduce current affairs through speech and drama, group discussions and games that stretch their imagination. Participants will put on their thinking caps as a team to solve scenarios that test their ability to think critically and creatively. For some, the writing challenges will be all it takes to ignite the writing spark in them as they discover the power of words.
This workshop is FULLY booked! All places were snapped up within 24 hours of launch.  

We will be opening up a NEW 6-weeks programme in Term 1/2017, specifically for Lower Primary students (Pri 1 to 3).

For more details and register a place, do check out From Tiny Acorns - Bright World Thinkers. 

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