The internet is a wonderful thing, granting us access to just about everything that humanity has ever discovered or postulated — but it also grants us access to nonsense, disinformation, bitter arguments, extreme tribalism, and the evident perils of conversational anonymity. In short, if you’re looking simply to further your education, you’ll have a difficult time managing it in the online world without expert curation of materials.
This is just one reason why reading actual books might be more important now than ever before. Educational books are edited and reviewed at length to ensure that they meet a decent standard of accuracy, so when you’re trying to steer your kids in the right direction (and protect them from the worst parts of the internet), you should definitely use them.
But reading educational books is just one tool in your parenting arsenal, and you shouldn’t stop there. Here are five activities that can be very effective at complementing educational reading:
This is simple enough! If your kids have been reading a lot of educational books, you can further cultivate their analytical and creative skills by tasking them with trying some factual storytelling. They could write stories about their recent experiences, or try to detail some things that happened to kids they know (or in your area of the country). Writing about real-world events is interesting because it’s difficult to know how to frame things, and there’s much to be learned. If you’re eager, John Fox has some useful non-fiction writing prompts.
Regular video games aren’t ideal, but there are various other game options, and we’re going to look at two here. Firstly, you can use make-and-play games: they come in kits that must be assembled and used to meet specific challenges. A great example is the Sago Mini Box, one of the kids’ subscription boxes with the most value and attention to detail. Each box comes with a specific theme (such as space or the ocean), so you can pair an activity with a suitable educational book and get better results.
Educational online games
Another good option for games is to play educational online games. Not conventional video games with extreme violence: instead, games that offer gentle challenges on educational topics while having enough interesting gameplay to keep kids engaged. Education.com has a great selection of educational games that you can use for free, so take a look to see what you make of it. There might be something perfect for your kids!
You don’t need any dangerous explosions or corrosive substances to do some fun science experiments at home, and demonstrating some scientific principles in action can be a fantastic way to solidify knowledge picked up through reading. You can find some instructions for simple experiments online, but it’s easiest to just pick up some science kits and gadgets. You can even get a STEM toy designed for gamers.
Lastly, though it isn’t the best option right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of value in visiting museums, whether they’re generalized museums or built around specific topics. There are often interactive exhibits that kids love, particularly at science museums. It can be highly inspirational to see what previous generations achieved with limited resources. For the moment, why not try some virtual museum tours? TimeOut has a good list.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.