Discussing current affairs to spark curiosity

From the news app on your phone to your favourite Sunday papers - media platforms are an essential part of modern life. However, when it comes to explaining current affairs to children, teachers and parents can often struggle with finding the appropriate language and tone of voice to explain complex topics.

Since the launch of current affairs magazine in November 2015, The Week Junior, our editorial team have seen first-hand the curiosity in children to learn when real world news is delivered and explained in a way that interests and entertains them. However, beyond capturing their interest and providing a form of entertainment, there has been little concrete evidence of the developmental outcomes that come with discussing global and political events with children.

Recently, in a bid to determine the role and value of current affairs news artefacts in schools, The Week Junior magazine, in partnership with leading child development expert Jacqueline Harding, undertook research into the developmental consequences of encouraging child curiosity in real world events. Using new data from over 1000 children aged 8-15, and their teachers and parents, the research evidenced clear positive impacts of explaining real world news in a way that stimulates curiosity in children both at home and in learning environments.

In the study, children from across the UK almost unanimously expressed their belief that learning about real world events or news sometimes or always increases their motivation to learn. In line with our experiences at The Week Junior, the young children surveyed wanted to be given the tools to help them make sense of the world and showed that they thrive on that knowledge. This view was supported by both parents and teachers, who identified a strong link between enhancing creativity in the curriculum and developing emotional resilience. Indeed, we often receive feedback from teachers who appreciate The Week Junior’s ability to provide crisp, accurate and informative analysis of the world’s news in a way that capture readers’ attention and encourages them to use their imagination.

From the development of critical thinking skills to enhancing cognitive growth, the results of the research confirm that when real world news is delivered and explained in a way that stimulates curiosity, enabling children to access and engage with current affairs in both the home and the learning environment can have significant benefits for child development. These benefits also include the building of resilience during the transition period to secondary school, a critical moment in a child’s progression in our education system.

Given these benefits, the study raises questions about the way in which schools might offer a deeper and more tangible link between real world news and lessons as a way of enabling children to engage in critical thinking. Recognising the demanding schedules of both teachers and parents, Dr Harding recommends that they work together, with the right support, to build on that childhood interest and help young people develop the skills they need to become the curious, critical thinkers of tomorrow.

The Week Junior can help them in this collaboration to access the benefits identified in Dr Harding’s report. The magazine is filled with information that explains news and events from a child’s perspective, and encourages them to form and share their own ideas and opinions. From news to nature, science to geography, and film to coding, it covers a huge range of exciting topics, and gives children the information they need, the way they want it: concise, colourful, immediate, exciting.

Making global and political events an integral part of daily life doesn’t need to wait until children reach adolescence. The Week Junior can provide an accessible resource to support teachers capitalise on the benefits of discussing current affairs with children and spark their curiosity.

Anna Bassi is the Editor at The Week Junior magazine. The Week Junior is published every Friday priced at £1.99. UK subscriptions are priced at £18.99 for 13 issues or £75 for an annual subscription; £60 to existing The Week subscribers to add The Week Junior to their subscription for a year. School term time subscriptions are available from £53.33 for 40 issues per year. For more information, go to http://theweekjunior.co.uk/about-junior/

To download a copy of the research report, please visit our website.