Saturday, July 17, 2010

Teaching Your Child To Do Research

(Note: This is not an activity to be accomplished in one day or even a few days. Allow it to take the time your child needs for effective learning. Also make this an interactive activity between you and the child. )

It is more important to teach children how to think than it is what to think.  2010 elections are approaching fast, and this is a fantastic time to teach children how to do effective research. While they are learning, you will also be gaining valuable information you need to make decisions on who you plan to cast a vote for.

I.  The first activity is to have them access information from your County.   Have them Google the “supervisor of elections (in your county).
On your counties election site have them locate and show you  how to register to vote, dates of elections, and where your precinct is located. You might have them tell you other interesting information they locate there as well. Allow their interests to guide their exploration whenever it surfaces.

II.  At the board of elections office (in your county),  they will be able to find who is running for office in your County and State.  However they can also Google “(Your State) Division of elections to find more information on who is running.
They will most likely need to key in the required information before the actual list of your candidates names appear. Discuss and assist as needed. 

III.  This is where the fun begins.  From there one  can usually find a link to the candidates websites, and learn what the candidates say they are about.  If not you can can also Google the the candidates name adding the office they are seeking.
Discuss with the child that information here needs to be taken with a "grain of salt"  since the candidate may be saying only what he thinks you want to hear (to get elected) rather than what he really intends to do once in office.

With that information they will now need to do the following: 
    1.  If the candidate has held an office in the past,  the research is easy. Have them Google “(the candidates name) on the issues“.

Now they can compare what the candidates say on their website with their voting record.  Does their voting record confirm what he says, or are there discrepancies?    Discuss with the child any important findings, and how you and they feel about this particular candidate. It is a great time to talk about your values and political views with the child as well.

    2. The following activity is optional depending on the child‘s computer skills and interest at this point: If  the candidate has never held an office, the research requires more digging .  Some candidates are very skilled at burying unfavorable information.

Have them Google the candidates name adding tags like on the issues, news article on (the candidates name) (in the persons home town)
  • (example: news article Don Browning westdale florida) , ext. 

Note:  The last (optional) activity is a great opportunity to explain to the child the difference between fact, fiction,  opinion, and reliable resources.

Below  are some helpful websites you may want to explore and discuss with your child  as well: 
1.  Open Secrets 
2.  Abigail Adams Project
3.  Heritage Foundation
4.  Wall Builders
5.  The Washington Post 
6.  The Christian Science Monitor
7.  The IMF website explains what the Internal Monetary Fund is all about
8.  The WTO website explains what the World Trade Organization is about
9.  Nothing is 100% accurate. However SNOPES is a good resource that allows one to determine the accuracy of chain e-mailes. One simply types key fazes from the e-mail into the search box to find the answers.

This activity will benefit your child for a lifetime.

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