Encouraging Kids to See the Bigger Picture (In a Fun Way)

When my brother and I were growing up, my dad used to love sharing his passion for the 'big, wide world' with us



To infinity... and beyond!

Our dad encouraged us to try and expand our thinking by sharing his own interest in the wider world and there were always encyclopaedias, atlases or books about the planets, space exploration or deep sea diving lying around.

He would never lecture us, our Dad. To be frank he found all that learning stuff pretty boring. His method was purely to share his own interests and it seemed to work.

Sparking the imagination through shared experiences

Dad was quite entrepreneurial in his younger years and had some incredible opportunities to travel the world. Off he would go with his suitcase and travel bags and, after several weeks, he would return, skin the colour of mahogany, from some far flung corner of the globe, suitcase loaded with exotic wood carvings, bits of coral, sea shells and real stuffed animals.

He once presented my mum with a lion skin handbag and some ivory. Very un-PC these days!

Dad would then regale us with tales from his travels and my brother and I would hang on his every word as he described island hopping in twin propeller aeroplanes, swimming in the Indian Ocean, shark fishing and batting off giant stinging insects.

As children, all this contributed vastly to our interest in the world around us, something which I'm keen to project on to my own kids.

Modern day learning tools

Sadly, I can't just pack a bag and wander off to the airport like my dad did, but by sharing his experiences with my kids and expressing my own interests too, they seem to be inquisitive and interested in the world and are always asking lots of questions.

The internet, although a nemesis to family life in lots of ways, is an invaluable tool for this sort of thing. Like most families nowadays, we sit and trawl the web for the answer to one thing and end up finding out dozens of facts about something else!

For me, it's brilliant to know that when in doubt, I can sneak on to Google and find the answer to any random question, thus ensuring my (completely undeserved) reputation as the font of all knowledge remains firmly intact!

Subconscious TV learning!

It doesn't always work but, trying to sneak on a couple of lively (not boring) documentaries in the background every now and then seems to do the trick in our house. Obviously not an hour long diatribe on the Crimean War, but as long as there's a bit of action going on, big fish, spacecraft, planets, killer insects, that sort of thing, even if they don't seem to be paying much attention, miraculously some of the information goes in.

I've found myself being asked questions a few hours later which proves they've been listening even if I haven't (bless Google).

I'm also happy to say that I've inherited all my dad's precious books which I leave strategically placed around the house...

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

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