Long story short - we didn't make it past the first round. Our general knowledge was abysmally bad. It suddenly struck us that it's one thing to know your syllabus - but general knowledge is a whole different ballgame. We were especially weak in two areas - countries & capitals and sports.
Here's a few tips to set your child on the right course to advance his general knowledge.
1. Watch Sports:
Now at the risk of sounding anti-feminist, girls don't follow sports, (unless you play a sport). Now what that situation creates is that not only will your child be at a disadvantage about sports trivia - who is the fastest runner in 100m etc, but the double whammy is that you miss a chance to learn about countries, capitals, flags, national anthems etc. The Olympics opening ceremony for instance is not just a spectacular visual treat, but watching the country's sports contingent marching with their flags is a great way to learn that there are actually close to 200 countries in the world. My friend Peeyush Sekhsaria once said that his dad was a big fan of football and the World Cup was a an event to wait for, and not just for the matches. "He used to pull out the atlas and encyclopedia and tell us where his favourite team is from, what the country is famous for. We learnt a lot about Brazil, Italy and other footballing nations this way, ''he reminisced.
2. Play Geography related Games:
Once on a train journey, I had a smart little girl as a co-passenger. After exchanging pleasantries she asked me to play a ‘country' game with her. She would name a country/city and I had to follow it up with another country/city starting from the last letter of the previous place. Eg. India - Angola - Andhra Pradesh - Honolulu. Definitely a good way to pass time on journeys and brush up on geography. Other games to sharpen geography skills are board games like ‘Ticket to Ride' where you race against countries, building train tracks and the good old ‘ Name Place Animal Thing' that we used to play as kids.
3. Revive the Art of Stamp Collection:
Now this may be a dying art and hobby, now that most people use couriers for sending packages and mail, and a lot of communication is over email. Still, this one time popular hobby has its charms. Even now Post offices issue stamps, and with a little bit of effort from family and friends across the country and world, you can start off your child on this simple hobby. Undoubtedly, it's a great way to learn about countries and what makes them special and different.
4. Invest in a Globe:
The seemingly simple globe can ignite the minds of young children. It's a super way to learn that the earth is round; where the land ends and the oceans begin; the North and South Pole etc. A fun way to use the globe is to close your eyes and touch a part of the globe. Whatever place or water body your finger touches, ask your child to find out more on it.
5. Visit Museums:
Now I know the museum may be a dreary place with some dusty artefacts that you had to endure during school trips as a child, and that you would rather go to the glitzy mall or a movie. Nevertheless, take your child to a museum and let him saunter about and discover what is on display. It may be the natural history section, the science or the art museum - but do make a visit. You never know what your child may find interesting.
6. Subscribe to General Knowledge Books:
There are several publishers who cater to the young readers. While story books are an important aspect, inculcate in your child the habit of reading books and magazines like National Geographic Kids etc. Invest in a good atlas. Also the best source of knowledge about the world around us is the newspaper. Make your child at least flip through the paper so that the child begins to understand the sections in the paper and in time ignite his interest.
7. Watch and Conduct Quiz Shows:
Enjoy BBC's Mastermind series or Kaun Banega Crorepati reruns with your child. You can also conduct quiz shows at home with your family.
8. Use the Internet:
While the fact that Britannica Encyclopedia stopped publishing in 2012 after a run of almost 200 years, still makes me sad, the fact remains that the internet makes every ‘Tell me How, Where & Why Question' easy to answer for parents. Use the internet together and make learning exciting. Click on the link appystore.in to watch the exciting animation video on AppyStore.
With a little investment in time and resources, you can make your child a better informed little individual. And who knows, you may enjoy rediscovering the world through his eyes and make learning exciting for both of you.
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