Children have a wonderful ability for learning, they are like little sponges and once they start finding their individual passions, they want to know every little bit of information they can about certain subjects. As our children are growing and developing and by extension, exploring the world around them, it’s our responsibility as parents to provide them access to new discoveries and exciting knowledge. Luckily, our children have something today that many parents may not have had back when they were little and learning; the internet.
The internet is incredible, the whole history of human knowledge, everything we know about our planet, it’s past and the people, plants and animals that make it up, everything we currently know about the stars and what is beyond them. The whole of human knowledge, available at the few taps of a keyboard or a quick search on your favourite search engine. Our children are not only inspired to learn but in turn, they inspire us to learn, to understand topics in as much detail so we can teach our children in age-appropriate ways, or alternatively, using the opportunity to learn and spend time together.
Learning in Age-Appropriate Ways
This is possibly the hardest task as an adult, there are some concepts of certain subjects (things that have a base in science, engineering, maths, etc) that can be difficult to explain in a child-friendly way. When your children are small, toddler age and getting to know their own strengths and weaknesses, things are best described with bright colours, large pictures and easy to understand concepts. For example, you can learn about liquids and their properties with a few different fun science experiments including;
- Add a few drops of food colouring to milk and then watch the colours dance about when you add a few drops of washing-up liquid
- Drop Mentos mints into a bottle of Diet Coke, stand back and wash the explosion! (definitely one for the garden in the warmer months)
- Put white flowers, with stalks attached, into a glass of food-colouring dyed water, watch the flower petals gradually change colour (over a few days) as the coloured water gets absorbed
When your children are a bit bigger and can handle equipment safely, you can get them involved in carrying out their own science experiments. Fantastic options include secret messages made with fresh lemon juice (use a hair dryer on low heat to reveal!) and this amazing DIY lava lamp project.
Out in the World Learning
Heading out and about and getting first-hand experience in places away from home, offer excellent opportunities for learning and gaining knowledge for both children and adults. Going on holiday is a perfect opportunity for children to learn more about the world, as family’s holiday in places that tend to have different cultures and customs than those back home. For example, the way Spanish people tend to have a mid-afternoon Siesta (nap) which means dinner is served later, once the heat of the day drops off or the way Scandinavians let their babies nap outdoors, even in the middle of winter! Other ways to learn about the world beyond your family home include;
- Teaching them about children their age around the world and what their day to day life looks like in comparison. This can be a fun exercise where you discuss the different types of breakfasts children across the world will eat or what sort of toys they will play with in the evenings.
- Celebrating differences, let this start in the home, celebrating the differences between your children and their sibling or you as a parent, how your home is different to a neighbour, what your family does that is different to your child’s friend’s family. The differences can be small, like diverse eye colours or vastly different, for example faiths and cultural holidays.
- Donating, sponsoring or adoption through charities is a good way of teaching children of the big difference in their world to those less fortunate and will encourage your child to help their local community and beyond in the future. Let your child help make a choice, they might like to make a new friend with an orphan girl sponsorship who your child can send letters to and communicate with or alternatively, contribute to saving their favourite animal with an endangered animal adoption.
Whether you prefer to teach your kids by getting hands on or you both like to kick back with a picture book and point out things that interest you both. Learning with your child as they discover and explore the world around them can be both exciting and awe-inspiring. Children see the world in different ways to adults and you never know, they might just discover something amazing that leaves you speechless!