For most parents, educating their child, just means cramming young minds with school books, homework, and most times just rote learning. In their race to make the child get top grades, parents take all the fun out of education.
Often, children are tired of parents nagging them to do 'meaningful' (read educational) stuff all the time. A little adjustment in the way parents expose children to knowledge will go a long way in making learning enjoyable, without the children even realizing they are 'learning' something.
Television as Educational Medium
From Sesame Street and Barney for preschoolers to National Geographic, Discovery, and History channels for all age groups, television has been an addictive medium for learning. Kids have learned their first alphabets from the Cookie Monster of Sesame Street and their numbers from Count Von Count. Discovery channel introduced them to the joys of underwater experience with dolphins and National Geographic made them gasp in wonder as the tailorbird built its nest.
Under the guise of playing board games, the child's mental skills can be given a boost. Monopoly improves Math skills, Scrabble enhances vocabulary, and the Spy Game helps in the sharpening of memory.
For children who don't have a natural love for books but who find CD-ROMs and DVDs exciting, the market is flooded with CDs of computer games. These teach various skills like Math, English, Geography, Art, etc. The Internet, too, has gaming sites that make learning fun.
Outdoor Educational Trips
Present-day museums are fun places - they are invaluable storehouses of information presented in appealing visual forms. Recreation of an Egyptian mummy, life-size dinosaur models, replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, scenes from everyday life of our ancient civilizations - the museum has them all.
How do baby crabs react when you touch them on the sand? Do they make a hole in the sand and disappear in it? How far onto the shore do the waves come at high tide? How deep back do they recede at low tide? Does a pink-and-blue spiral shell really exist? A visit to the beach will answer all these questions.
Does the kangaroo really carry its baby in its pouch? Do elephants bathe using their trunks as giant showerheads? Does the hippo live on land or in water? The zoo will see the child's grey cells at their curious best.
A routine trek down a nature trail can turn into a very enlightening experience. What are the names of different flowers? How old is the giant redwood tree? Why are the trees in full bloom in spring and bare in winter? Parents will have to be ready with answers for the nonstop volley of questions from their little ones.
The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
- Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
Inculcating a love for reading in the child from a young age is setting them up for a wonderful journey in life. Reading builds vocabulary and augments knowledge. It helps in building conversational skills. Starting with picture books for the young reader and graduating to age-appropriate books, parents can gently turn books into best friends for their children. Take the child to the public library and make them pick their own books. If there is a series they are particularly fond of - Dr. Seuss for beginners or Harry Potter for older children, invest in buying these books.
Educating the child need not be a monotonous, painful tug-o-war between parent and child. With a little imagination and effort, it can turn out to be a very rewarding experience. Robert Maynard Hutchins has rightly said, The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.