Q: What’s one piece of advice you can offer to help learning become less difficult for children?
A: This is a tough question, because as an educator I want to offer children the world. That’s probably why I love working at WKAR and MSU. Our very mission is to help families and children understand that the world is full of possibilities -- and so is every child. However, if I had to give just one piece of advice it would be to immerse children in background knowledge. This knowledge is also known as prior knowledge.
Background knowledge is the foundation for all learning. It gives context, connection and history to new information and ideas. The best part of background knowledge is the simplicity in how it is accumulated. Talking your day to a child and letting them ask questions and wonder builds background knowledge. Reading a book each day for fifteen minutes builds background knowledge. And my favorite, taking an adventure and exploring builds background knowledge.
The more children experience the world, the more they can gleam seeds of knowledge that will connect their understanding of new information and ideas as they learn and grow. Remember don’t just talk about how a piece of fruit tastes, discuss the color, texture, shape and even how, when and where it grows. Explore the woods and pretend you’re Lewis and Clark and read a wide variety of books including one of my favorite series What If You Had Animal…? Background knowledge is a crucial building block to making learning less difficult.