Like all learning, a child’s general knowledge begins for children as soon as they’re born. They start absorbing the environment, responding, differentiating sounds, and learning language. At times, they’re fascinated by even their own hands and feet before moving on to things like light, doors, chairs, and cabinets. Factors that enable this early learning include sensitive and responsive parenting, a safe environment, positive experiences, healthy nutrition, and routine. When your child finally gets into preschool, they’re ready to hit the ground running. They arrive with some basic skills and things they’re interested in, such as exploring, discovering, and socializing.
However, most schools have a curriculum, a predefined set of subjects that they teach. This is by no means a bad thing. Schools do their part teaching your child subjects that contribute to their success in the real world. But general knowledge goes beyond textbook information. General knowledge gives your child a chance to learn, discover, explore, teach, invent and reinvent. It helps shape their identity and understanding of the world. Simply put, academic pursuit pushes your child towards specialization, while general knowledge provides them with holistic insights. For the latter, you have an essential role to play as their parent.
Benefits of General Knowledge in Children
As opposed to specialized learning and mastery of a single subject, general knowledge is the accumulation of information on a wide variety of subjects. Target Study gives a more comprehensive definition. They define general knowledge as culturally valued knowledge about different topics relating to the social interest of society, culture, civilization, community, or a country, which a range of non-specialist media may communicate. Branches of general knowledge include arts, family, current affairs, science, fashion, recreation, and physical health. Broken down, it touches almost every aspect of human existence. Already, you can probably imagine the benefits your child stands to gain from having good general knowledge in most of these branches. Find some of these benefits below.
- It makes them interesting conversationalists. General knowledge in many areas of life enables your child to hold a conversation with anyone. As a result, they can contribute intelligently to any topic of discussion. Additionally, they can easily help fill awkward moments of silence during a conversation, whether in a meeting or on a date. This impacts their social circle, helping them cultivate more meaningful relationships. It will also mean they give a more positive perception of themselves. Talking to adults is a skill that can be learned. If your child can understand the conversation around the table they will benefit far more.
- They get better grades at school. Schoolwork requires your child to write essays, debate their peers, solve mathematical problems, and even prepare presentations. So, naturally, general knowledge makes these tasks easier for them compared to those who aren’t generally knowledgeable. But, beyond ease, it also allows your child to do their homework better. This is because they have more context to draw from, more examples to give, and therefore more insights. Ultimately, this makes their work stand out from the rest of their peers, earning them better grades.
- Improves their decision-making. Making sound decisions requires one to have adequate information. But sometimes, decisions have to be made on the spot, and there’s simply no time to gather information. General knowledge comes in handy in situations like these. A good understanding of history, social issues, culture, and current affairs allows your child to draw and compare implications, comparisons, lessons, and predictions. All of this helps better their decision-making. Critical thinking is something that can be developed.
- Able to interact with people from different backgrounds. Culture impacts the development of children down to the way they use language. To interact with people from other cultures requires some level of holistic knowledge. So does interacting with people from different places. For example, an American teenager who reads books set in Asia might better converse with another teenager from an Asian country. Geographical and cultural knowledge gives your child cues and insights about people in those places. If your child has an understanding of different cultures and heritages will make them far more tolerant and interested.
- Helps them take in new information. When absorbing new information, general knowledge gives your child an edge. Processing and assimilating certain information requires background knowledge. Without this, understanding may elude your child because there are gaps they can’t fill. Even during conversations, people drop information in nuggets, hoping that the other person will make connections and understand without asking for an explanation.
- Helps them remember information. It’s easier for your child to store information on topics they already have background knowledge of. A study by David Z. Hambrick, a psychology professor at Michigan State University, found that prior knowledge may provide a framework for integrating new knowledge. Practically, when called upon to recall new information, people search within the framework of what they already know to trigger the remembrance of another piece of information on the topic.
Ways to Improve General Knowledge in Children
Below are some practical ways to improve general knowledge in your child.
- Start out with the simple facts. Before delving into the deep, start improving your child’s general knowledge by telling them simple facts about their own life and the people around them. The local area and family history. Things they can relate to. From their cultures of friends in their class and the neighborhood.
- Discuss current events. Discussing current events with your child might spark an interest in that subject. You don’t have to discuss every recent event because some might burden your child. But you can discuss those you find appropriate. Examples include environmental awareness, planting flowers, rare animals, and fascinating discoveries. You can always research to improve your knowledge of the subject.
- Encourage reading. Reading is one of the richest sources of general knowledge. There’s hardly anything on earth that hasn’t been written about. Magazines, newspapers, books, and journals all carry information about something. Constant reading expands your child’s horizons. At that early stage, you have to help them cultivate a culture of reading. You can do this by making sure that your child always has access to something to read. Having encyclopedias and atlases around the house and in the car make it easy for your children to pick something up for 10 minutes.
- Get them a globe. Nothing stimulates children more than visuals. A globe offers that in abundance. They could turn it around to get a view of a country, land, or ocean somewhere far away. Just looking at the shape of a country there on the globe will most likely get your child fascinated and interested. When this happens, help them get all the information they want. Then move on to the next place that catches their fancy. However, be sure to refer back to it later and ask questions. This helps with remembrance and retention.
- Watch sports. There are so many competitive sports in the world. Different countries tend to get represented in many of them. Watching sports together exposes your child to the rules of the game, the national anthem of various countries, and their flags. Even if you only get to watch only the popular sports, try and tell your child about the not-so-popular ones.
- Visit museums, art, and historical galleries. At museums and historical galleries, your child gets to have visuals of historical and cultural artifacts. Most museums have collected items from many parts of the world. Your child gets to see the size of animals, past and present, from a close distance. Museum guides give tours, during which they tell the story behind their collections. These stories can spark interesting conversations.
- Encourage them to take part in quiz shows. Another excellent way of improving your child’s general knowledge is to watch quiz shows on the TV or the Internet. Encourage them to take part in some of these quiz competitions. A quiz helps your child think on their feet and recall information.
- Educational YouTube channels. There are some fantastic educational YouTube channels. We give some examples of the ten best here. Great for long car journeys and to sit and as you can listen to them, it is a great conversation starter.
Here we have discussed about how to make your child a reader.
Final Thoughts on Helping Your Child Develop an Understanding of Cultures and General Knowledge.
Raising a well-rounded child into an adult takes deliberate effort and patience. But, it is also very rewarding. To sit with my children and talk about politics and current affairs over dinner means that we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. There are many apps out there that can help your child improve their general knowledge. Some of these apps include NASA app, Stack the Countries, My Incredible Body, Me Books, Toca Builders, and Focus on Plant. These apps all work on Android and iPhone.