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author's profile photo Moshe Eliezer Naveh

Looking for tips and tricks for educating children

Hello everyone,

Since I became a father (approx. five and a half years ago) I've been looking for creative ways to enable my kids to learn new stuff. Having screens all over makes it really tempting to have them watch educational clips about different topics . However being concerned with the impact screens have I try to reduce screen time as much as possible and find other ways/mean in which my children (2.8, 4.5, 5.5) can learn.

Here some of the activities I've tried so far:

* I go the library with them (mostly in rainy days) and I read scnience/history/nature books to them

* On our ride back home I ask them what they've learned in the kindergarten and this way they teach each other. I feel they enjoy both the attention and the conversation

* I randomly start telling them stories/facts about different topics

I would love to hear your ideas on how to educate children without using screens.

Feel free to skim-through a related discussion I posted a year ago.

Regards,

Moshe

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17 Comments

  • Feb 16, 2020 at 11:33 PM

    Hello Moshe Naveh

    I couldn't resist to offer my perspective, much like I did in the previous discussion. So here goes ...

    I would start by asking them what interests they have? Are those (still) very general topics, related to cooking - animals (dinos) - professions - gardening - ... or are there some "niche" interests growing already?

    For instance, there are lots of (entry-level) kids books on dinosaurs ... why not get those and see whether there is a local museum to see these fossils in real life and size?

    Maybe they have an interest in some popular profession such as the firebrigade, vetrenarian or pilot? I regularly inform myself when the local firebrigade has an open-house day, so you can have them talk about their profession.

    And when the right season comes around, I like to do some gardening with my boys and while I can, I'll try to give them some information on general topics related to nature, soil, irrigation and insects ...

    One of my boys already has a "niche" interest related to woodwork, so we have made insect-hotels, birdhouses, a skateramp, etc. There are dozens of freely accessible websites / printable PDF designs for all of those. And while making them, they learn a bit about the different materials and their characteristics, tools and possibly some geometry ...

    These days, you can buy a lot of cool stuff at a fairly low price, so some binoculars or a toy-microscope might keep them busy while gathering all kinds of materials in or outside the house and inspecting them ...

    Depending upon where you live, you might have some impressive culture or historic figure that you can teach them about? Or maybe you can take them on a trip into nature and talk to them about the specifics of your local environment, whether dry or wet or mountainy or maybe even talk about volcanos?

    Even though it might not be educational, I really love it when my boys are making up stuff, for instance with Lego. I argue that the spirit for creativity, phantasy and solving a problem to get to an endgoal is a very valuable skill.

    Finally I also found a very usefull IT-related reference in the "Hello Ruby" website : link. This is a website dedicated to teaching kids to think logically and programmatically, from ages as early as 4. Even without actual coding / screens / devices, you can get them to have fun and solve a problem using basic maths and computational principles.

    And perhaps later on, you can get them to go to a local CoderDojo if you have one around. Starting ages 7 and up, a CoderDojo is a volunteer community of people that want to introduce more kids into the world of programming. This is a shameless plug, as I am a member of the CoderDojo community in my country, haha!

    I hope this has provided you with some inspiration!

    Nic T.

    • Feb 17, 2020 at 08:07 AM

      Great ideas and approach, thank you!

      I think creativity is not less important than knowledge. If you have great memory but don't know how to apply it effectively you probably won't get far.

      We do have plants in our the porch so they can water them and at the same time I can teach them about how they grow, why and what contribution they have for our planet.

      Another thing I just thought of is to teach them is never to take things for granted:

      If they eat bread, to explain how it was created

      If we ride the car, to explain how it rides. To start conversation everywhere about anything.

      Moshe

  • Feb 17, 2020 at 03:06 PM

    My oldest grandson is a little older than your kids (he'll be 12 next month) but I've been getting him subscriptions to various "maker kit" types of things for several years. He loves getting his own mail and building the things he gets every month. I've also got him enrolled in a beginning computer programming program right now. When he was younger, I had enrolled him in monthly geography "adventures" and for a while he was getting science kits.

    All of these are available in the US, but I'm not sure what's available in other countries and languages.

    -Dell

    • Feb 18, 2020 at 09:02 AM

      Thanks!

      I'm also working hard with my kids on their English skills (e.g. I only allowed them to watch cartoons in English) so English kits also work.

      Yeah, I think I'll start looking for maker kits for them. It's a whole ceremony for them to get packages and I'm sure they'll enjoy this kind as well.

      Thank you,

      Moshe

  • Feb 17, 2020 at 03:40 PM

    Well.... My Baby has now just graduated from college.

    But a funny story. I used to - even when he was in pre-school play the "math game" with him in my car while driving down the road. I'd ask him a question: 1+5 = and then he would give an answer. I had fun with it cheering him on and giving him encouragement to get the right answer.

    One day I'm driving down the road and my son yells "let's play the math game". Unfortunately my niece was in the car. She informed him in no uncertain terms that "the math game" wasn't a game at all. I explained that it was for Nate and I. She never bought it. He however, still liked the game.

    My advice is to make it fun. Learning can be fun. Taking him to the bird sanctuary to learn about birds and what they eat, different kinds, etc. That was fun.

    • Feb 17, 2020 at 08:01 PM

      My kids are older now too - 32 and 29. Similar to your math game, when my daughters were younger and we were travelling, we'd keep an eye on the "distance to..." signs on the highway. We'd see one to use as a starting point, for example, 95 miles to Birmingham, AL. When we saw the next one that maybe said 72 miles to Birmingham, I would ask them how far we had gone since the first sign. Initially we would walk through the problem together (95-72) so that I could teach them how to do it without writing it down and by the time they were 10 and 7 they were doing it on their own without my help. This encouraged them to start doing math in their heads and was fun for all of us.

      -Dell

    • Feb 18, 2020 at 09:49 AM

      My big boy also loves math. He sits with a calculator and guesses what's the result before he hits the equal sign. It's amazing how until today I was mostly worried about him having enough friends, being happy in the Kindergarten, overall wellbeing and now also intellectual enrichment. Becoming a dad is the best thing ever happened to me.

      • Feb 18, 2020 at 12:44 PM

        Isn't it wonderful? Each stage is a joy.

        My baby did have issues with friends. He was shy. He ended up making some good ones, but it happened as soon as he started playing sports on the playground. (They start young around 6 - just throwing the ball around and having fun) Next was the "unofficial" school sports that started around 8ish too. It was fun watching them all run around, not really knowing what to do. Then came the actual "school" sports. Those were times when he made really good friends.

        Then in college - once he had joined several clubs. (Eventually President and vice-president) He had to be more outgoing. He was doing things to have people join....

        So getting involved with outside activities is a great idea too.

  • Feb 17, 2020 at 04:12 PM

    Start hiking?

    I don't think it matters where, how long, or what level. But I think just making it a weekly, or even a daily event is beneficial to all concerned. Even if its just 15 minutes around the block. Just make it a habit.

    The heart benefits for the parents are obvious. But I think it also sets the table for the children as well to a life-long healthy habit.

    I think family walks/hikes are similar to the family dinner table. It allows the chance for everyone to talk. To point out things and educate kids about nature and their environment. Get kids familiar with neighborhoods so they can always find their way home.

    Some walks might just be a quiet walk. Other times you might be surprised at what your kids talk about and the conversation takes off on a tangent you never expected. With three kids you might never have to talk! Other times you can keep a list of ideas in your head for your walks. Different birds, bugs, insects, trees, flowers, what ever is in season and you might pass by. Even games.. counting the number of electric cars you see vs. petrol cars. Or for young kids the number of blue cars. Maybe a contest for the most trash picked up. Or a monthly contest for best found object.

    As they get older, you can plan longer weekend hikes and they'll be ready for them because of the local walks. Then you can include visits to other parks, historical areas, tourist spots, wilderness hikes, etc..

    At older ages (10+) you can introduce topo maps and compasses! :-) Learn bearings, map grids, etc.. its all math. Practical math. Get the kids to plot and plan hikes. Hike to old foundations, remote overlooks, etc. etc..

    No video screens outside.. of course there are some good outdoor apps that can help teach too..

    And there are great mental benefits to just being outside in the sun and fresh air which can boost productivity and improve sleep.

    I'm just an outdoor geek..

    Craig

    • Feb 18, 2020 at 07:39 AM

      Thank you Craig! So my morning rides are all calmer when we learn together. Today we spoke about what energy enable trees to grow and the creation of the universe. Today, if the weather will allow it I will take them for a walk and teach them about nature (and my older one already teaches me:))

      Thanks again for the great idea. If we will have the chance, I will report tomorrow how it went:)

      • Feb 19, 2020 at 06:09 AM

        So, we didn't get to hike but on our ride back home I taught the kids about the Roman and Greek empires. When we got home we built a Catapult with a plastic spoon and tooth paste box. It was cool:)

        This morning we focused about different kind of energies and what they operate.

        • Feb 19, 2020 at 06:00 PM

          Cool! My son built a few Trebuchets growing up!

          Hopefully as the weather allows, you'll be able to do some walking with them.

          Craig

  • Feb 18, 2020 at 06:44 PM

    There is a great book that I only wish I would've known of when my kid was younger: I Learn From Children. I understand the parents of young children don't usually have time to read books (oh irony! :) ) but even if you just read the introduction I believe you will be sufficiently inspired. (It is also available to Amazon Prime members as a free audiobook, which is how I found out about it.) The top rated review on Amazon offers a great synopsis of the book. I recommend it to anyone interested in education and learning, even for adults.

    My kid is now 10 and after listening to this book I wish I could've done some things differently. But, even unknowingly, we did many things right too. :) From the very young age, we offered him real items to play with instead of the over-designed toys that leave nothing to imagination. E.g. one of his favorite activities was to get his hands on our recycling box. He'd make the most amazing things with cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, etc. (Obviously make sure there are no metal cans, glass or other unsafe objects.)

    As the book title suggests, the children themselves will lead you, we just need to pick up on their signals.

  • Feb 20, 2020 at 09:04 AM

    This morning I taught them about how germs spread. I like it how you can enrich your kids and at the same time help them maintain healthier conduct.

  • Feb 25, 2020 at 10:33 AM

    We'd play board games and card games as a family. I was fairly merciless about winning, so now they're all adults I never win. We'd go for long walks in the countryside. We had chemistry and electronics sets. Lego of course. We had a decent microscope, telescope and binoculars. Photography is always of interest to them. They made they're own videos using the Lego Movie Studio (ok, a bit of screen time needed for that). They also produced their own comics, wrote stories, painted... We'd make music as sing together. Most recently, I got my daughter an arduino starter set.

    We still do some of these things when we meet up now. Though we have professional video equipment and editing software.

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