Eight ways to improve your child’s general knowledge
General knowledge is one of those important areas of a child’s development that often gets overlooked. As a parent, I tend to focus on what my children need to know for school – letters, sounds, numbers etc… but children also need to have a general understanding of the world around them, which in will turn aid achievement and conversational skills. But how do you start improving your child’s general knowledge without overwhelming them with information? And more importantly, letting them be children without the weight of current affairs dragging them down. Here I’ve come up with a few ways to boost general knowledge in a gentle way…
Start with simple facts
I realised the other day that my four year old didn’t know his full name (including his middle name). I’m sure this is quite common but I was so embarrassed that I’d never actually taught him his full name that I decided to start gently teaching him general facts about his own life. So over the past few weeks I’ve been reminding him of his full name, his address and our home phone number. Not only is this really useful information for him but if he ever needs to tell anyone in an emergency then he will know it. I’ve also started telling him some interesting facts about our family, such as his great-grandad worked in a bank and his other great-grandad used to fly aeroplanes. I hope that starting with general knowledge about our own family will spark his imagination and interest in finding out more.
Ideas for simple facts your child could learn:
Talking about current events in a child appropriate way
There are things that happen in the world that as parents we quite rightly decide not to discuss with our children. But there are lots of current affairs items that can be discussed in a very accessible way to young children. In my household we are trying to cut down on the amount of plastic we use and recycle as much as possible. That has meant lots of conversations about the environment, lots of family trips to the recycling bin outside (the glamour) and in turn we have decided to plant more flowers in the garden to help bees. Once a conversation is sparked on a current event that you want to talk about with your children there are YouTube clips, snippets of documentaries and cartoons that can support that knowledge.
Newsround is a favourite and easily accessible programme that breaks down news in bite size chunks! It does all the hard work for parents and has the most wonderful way of explaining even the most difficult subjects in an appropriate way for children. If you use the search bar at the top of their website you can find a host of clips about most topics.
Picking a topic to google or research together
When something sparks an interest in your child it’s a brilliant opportunity to do a bit of research together. From space to dinosaurs, to flowers – there are brilliant resources online. Here I’ve listed some great sites for kids:
A kid friendly encyclopaedia of the past and present world, with good illustrations and clear text.
Videos, games, stories and more from all the Mr Men characters.
A celebration of all things from Mr Seuss..
Switch Zoo A great way for kids to use their imaginations and create crazy new animals.
Easy to search for record-breakers.
Full of jokes, games and interesting facts perfect for kids to browse.
Top Marks Well designed and good fun reference site for all those homework problems.
Teach them life skills
From hoovering to picking up their toys. Teaching them life skills is a brilliant way of improving their knowledge of the home in which they live and giving them the best start to creating a sense of independence and responsibility.
Visit to museums
Visiting museums (especially easy in London) can help spark conversations and improve knowledge. The Natural History Museum is brilliant for helping children see the size of animals past and present and seeing dinosaurs up close. The Science Museum has a wonderfully interactive water exhibition downstairs and the Transport Museum is great for seeing how we travelled around through the ages.
Supporting children’s topics at school
Schools often have a topic per term such as Egyptians, Victorians, Space and most schools will communicate this to parents (if not just ask). In order to help your child at home, parents can research, find clips and visit museums that support a particular topic. This will not only support children’s learning but make the links between home and school much tighter.
Making general knowledge part of your conversations
Talking about general knowledge every day is an easy way to make it part of life. In order to flip it into conversation in the car, at the shops or on walks it always helps if an adult starts a sentence for a child and encourages them to finish it….
Next month is….
The Prime Minister is….
The River Thames runs through the city of ……………..
We live in a place called…………
Mummy works at……………….
This guides the conversation and if they can’t answer it then you can just finish your own sentence to remind them.
Products that help general knowledge
Finally, there are great general knowledge games and activities that you can play as a family including the following:
AS well as the following apps: