10 hacks to teach your kids stuff when they don’t realise they’re learning

What should you do when you find it hard to have your little one sit down and focus on some learning? We tell you how to make kids learn in 10 simple ways

how to make kids learn

How to make kids learn: A question that haunts most parents

As with most parents, I too struggle with getting the offspring to sit down with his books and put in a spot of serious studying. His concept of studying is basically filling in the spare time between watching television, playing on the iPad or tearing up the concrete down in the building compound.

What is a mother to do in order to get the child interested in the contents of his text book? Here’s what sometimes has helped me explain basic concepts in science to him, and no, it didn’t come out of a textbook or through regular learning routines.

  • Superhero movies help. Batman helped me explain bats and radar and sound waves and why bats live in caves, and that they sleep hanging upside down and how they are actually mammals, with skin flaps that extend to form wings to enable them to fly. Superman helped me talk about space, and atmosphere and the concept of time which had the baby grow into a toddler by the time he landed in space and how anything falling through the atmosphere burns up—ergo meteors and meteorites. Spiderman was a right lesson in how webs were spun and the different techniques of food gathering in the animal kingdom.
  • A fall off the slide resulted in an explanation about gravity, and the ensuing cut and bleeding helped me chat a bit about blood, red blood cells and white blood cells and clotting. And of course, this was done after the crying was dealt with and first aid administered and curiosity to do more stunts on slides voiced aloud.
  • Cut apples left for a while were quickly turned into a demo of oxidation and why the colour changes upon exposure to air. The slight rusting of the balcony grills also added weight to this lesson.
  • Make the weather your ally. Point out interesting natural phenomenon and correlate it to what they’re learning.  A cloudy sky can just be a quick lesson on the water cycle. A storm can explain thunder and lightning and electricity and how light travels faster than sound. A hot day can explain thirst and dehydration and why the body needs water.
  • An afternoon of play with the ice tray from the freezer cleared up the concepts of solid, liquid, melting and freezing.
  • Let your kids loose with a phone camera and ask them to click the most interesting plants and flowers they see on a picnic or a holiday and then have them google up pictures to find out more about what they’ve clicked.
  • A night with a power outage and dinner by candlelight led to an impromptu lesson on shadows and light and opacity and of course, shadow figures. And of course, also electricity.
  • If you have a garden or a compound, get your kids to plant a tree and watch it grow, track the growth and the development of flowers and fruits. You could teach pollination and plant tissues in the basic manner by them observing the growth of the plant.
  • On a flight, take the opportunity to explain the layers of the atmosphere and why we fly so much higher than the clouds. You could also show your child the curve of the horizon at the distance to prove that the earth is round. Also, the painful ear popping could be a good moment to explain air pressure and how the eardrum is sensitive to it. Simple paper planes can be a child’s introduction to aerodynamics and propulsion.
  • And finally, and perhaps most importantly. Kids are naturally curious. They ask one gadzillion questions and Why becomes their default opening word to every statement. Answer as many as you can. Google up those you can’t. Let the child’s own natural curiousity lead the learning as much as possible. He or she will remember it better, rather than something you think he or she should know about.
Kiran Manral is an author, social activist, blogger and mother to a teen

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