Week 3 of the #blogchatterA2Z challenge and I seem to have fallen into a rhythm of daily writing. Till now I have a written a lot about different attitudes that we should aim to develop in our children for them to have a well rounded personality. Today I am going to talk about something different – it is about building a solid knowledge base in our children, which is essential if we are raising our children to be capable. So today let us talk about K for Knowledge. It doesn’t matter what field your child decides to pursue in future, what is important is that we cultivate in them the pursuit of knowledge.
Without knowledge, one cannot be successful in life. “Knowledge is power” – an old adage but will hold true through time. Evolution of humankind is intrinsically linked to our increasing knowledgebase as a species. It is knowledge that has led to the advancement of mankind and it is what gives us the ability to make our decisions.
In the context of our children, we should understand the different types of knowledge we need to build in them. These could be categorized as i) conceptual/ background knowledge ii) general knowledge iii) intuitive knowledge. Conceptual knowledge is basically prior background knowledge a child has about a subject or topic. Building background knowledge is important as it is both cumulative and exponential. Children with background knowledge are able to learn and grasp concepts much faster than those who don’t. General knowledge is important as it helps children understand the different facets of this world and its workings. Intuitive knowledge is a combination of background knowledge and our 5 senses.
Below are some tips on how to help build a strong knowledge base for our children:
- Give a lot of exposure: knowledge is not gained only through textbooks. Children absorb information from anywhere and everywhere. Every experience your child has helps them gain knowledge. Trip to a museum or outside their city or to the villages on the outskirts of your city are all learning experiences. Introduce them to different people and different occupations, let them interact with outside world on their own – all of this will build on their knowledge base.
- Books, books and books! This one is a no brainer. Many people start reading to their children – sometimes as early as infancy. To begin with it helps foster a strong relationship with the baby and also is a start of developing language skills. With our first child, we started buying books for him pretty early. But to our disappointment he didn’t show much interest in them initially – however, by the time he was 5, he was surrounded by many books and he slowly started to pick and read them. Now, at ten he is a voracious reader with interests as wide as history, geology, paleontology, physics and so on and has an impressive knowledge base. All we did was to surround him with books and he took off on his own. But there may be children who do not enjoy reading – for them one can explore the wide variety of audio books available on the net.
- Educational shows: I know most of us are trying to reduce screen time for our kids but we can choose carefully what our kids see. There is a lot of content online now with very good age appropriate information. There are also fascinating shows on National Geographic and Discovery etc. We were very surprised when my toddler recognized names of different dinosaurs and when he called a ‘digger’ an excavator and so on and so forth. So yes, while I have a lot of power struggles with him around the mobile phone, I also recognize that he has ended up learning a lot from these shows. We are trying to ensure a balance now.
- Games: there are many games that develop good knowledge – starting from “Name, Place, Animal, Thing” we used to play in our childhood to board games like “ticket to ride” and “scrabble”. Then there are a number of games available on science experiments, mathematics as well as current affairs. Jigsaw puzzles with the map of your country or the world is also a good way to build general knowledge. Buy a globe – one can devise many games around it.
- Current affairs: there is a lot of information out there today – TV, internet, print media and so on. Depending on your child’s age, select some mediums carefully and watch or read with your child. There is a lot of unnecessary noise today on TV and hence it is important to choose – you can pick any one of the round up evening news shows that give highlights of the day. Start the habit of reading newspapers – maybe the cartoon or puzzles page to begin with – moving on to sports page and then headlines and business – depends on the age and interest of your child. You can also download e-papers. Then of course there are general knowledge books and quiz programs. Other than that discuss current affairs when the family is together.
- Encourage questions: ya I know… the non stop stream of questions can sometimes be overwhelming! But sacrifice the urge to shut them up and try to answer them as best as you can. With google as your new best friend you can rest assured and tackle any questions that come your way. Keep them coming and in no way try to curb the inquisitive spirit.
- Learn by doing: there are different ways of learning and tactile learning is learning by doing. Any knowledge when applied will remain in our memories much longer. Encourage children to experiment, to make models, cook new recipes, do some gardening. All of these will enhance knowledge.
Finally, it is obvious that one cannot know everything about everything. Encourage your children to find out what they like most and help them build their knowledge base in those areas. Hope you liked my ideas on knowledge building, do share how you encourage knowledge in your children.
Read my other blogs on the series here: