Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

Creative Ways To Teach Your Children

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Jun 28, 2017 3:10 AM

Imparting knowledge to impressionable young minds can be a daunting task at first glance. Finding ways to connect with children on equal footing requires a more thorough lesson plan than sitting a child behind a desk, standing in front of a whiteboard and simply rambling through a topic; Instead, finding a way to engage a child's imagination offers a higher return on investment when it comes to teaching and learning ideas both new and old.

First things first, children who are active learn more than children who are inert. It is much easier for a child to absorb information when engaged by several orders of magnitude. A child may only absorb 20 to 30 percent of what they hear, but a child who is learning a new idea through hands-on interaction may hold on to new information at a rate of nearly 75 to 90 percent - anywhere from two to four times the amount of information on the same topic. 

This introduces the issue of finding new and interesting ways to keep children involved in the process. Thankfully, creative teaching methods aren't a wholly new concept and plenty of clever examples are freely available. Something as simple as a question without an obvious answer can spur a child's interest and make them devote serious time to solving a "problem" you set out for them; If you are trying to teach a child about the importance of a concept, you might ask them what they think the world would be like without the subject at hand. Math, language, the arts, and dozens of other topics work well with starting a discussion between children and their peers, which can occasionally be half the battle of teaching.

Recent technological developments allow a level of interactivity with lessons that children could not have experienced just a few decades ago. Something as simple as taking pictures of a child's artistic projects for them to reflect on at a later date can set an example for the permanency of what they do; Alternatively, simple educational videos can help one learn colorscount, or grasp more complicated subjects like counting or simple mathematics through the use of animated examples tends to be easier to grasp than stale word problems or esoteric descriptions of what a color looks like. Additionally, visual examples help reinforce this knowledge for long-term retention.

By and large, the most effective method can be teaching from behind. Acting as a strong leader involves getting into the trenches with the other soldiers, so to speak, and engaging in the same activities as those learning something new for the first time. Finding ways to work your own interests into the mix can add another strong layer of depth to your teaching by showing your students to enjoy things in the world around them, and may have the added bonus of drawing you deeper into the lesson at hand. By leading from behind and using your interests, children may learn from you through emulating your actions and following an example set by someone who knows what they are speaking about directly.

If the child's age group allows, questioning the child's grasp of stereotypes and assumptions can open new doors or offer exciting new angles on old topics. Teaching a child to question things around them is an important step in helping them realize their own identity and open themselves up to discover new interests they may have overlooked. For example, asking a young mind how they feel about a certain food (such as vegetables) and then offering vegetables served up in an enthralling way (such as zucchini bread, which holds similarities to banana bread) can shake even the most stubborn out of their steadfast ways.

Overall, it is important to remember that children want to interact with things and study them at their own pace. By joining them in the creative learning process you set a strong example that will stick with them for years to come, and with a little luck may teach them that learning doesn't have to be a lifelong series of boring lectures.

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