Knowledge: What should Children Know?

knowledge development in early childhood

Last week, as I was taking my girl on her stroller to the school, she pointed to a pile of cow dung on the road and asked me what it was. I said it was an animal poop. She wanted to know if it was a doggy’s. I said a cow’s. Next, she pointed to a dog’s poop and asked me if it was a cow’s poop. I said doggy’s. For the rest of the ride, she was deeply observing all the poops on the road and making a guess of the animal. She sure thinks her mom is an expert because she can in one glance at a poop tell which animal did it 😎

While as adults we want to make our children learn a lists of things – alphabets, numbers, countries, capitals, flags, currencies, colours, shapes, animals, their houses, their young ones, national bird, animal, insect, reptile….., what children want to know could be something like this – about the poops on the road!

From 1st to 30th April, I will be writing one post a day on The Things that really matter to Children. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the complete list of posts in the series.

K for Knowledge: What should Children Know?

What should my 2-year old know? What should my 3-year old know? What should my 4-year old know? And, what should my 5-year old know?! These are common questions asked in parenting forums. Of course, we want our children to be equipped with knowledge. They are our biggest responsibilities and we may want them to breathe ‘success’ as early as they can; as early as we can push them to. Well, every parent’s goals, ambitions and dreams on their children could be different. And there’s no right or wrong in it!

But, what are children supposed to know?

Parents can answer this question in a variety of ways. Educators can answer this question in a variety of ways. Even a pediatrician and a child psychologist can list out different things for what a 3-year old must know. It is, infact, a popular topic of discussion among parents today.

As with my most other posts, let me discard yet another popular theory of parenting here because, there really can’t be a syllabus for what a 3-year old should know! A child growing in a farmland whose parents do not have the knowledge of teaching shapes to their child may not know the names of the shapes, yet the child can develop a geometrical understanding of the shapes of the objects around him. He can know how ploughing, seeding and harvesting are done. He can know how to milk a cow or feed a cow.

A child of urban parents may learn the names of shapes using toys, yet he may not develop the geometrical understanding of the objects we use everyday at home. He may gain a factual knowledge of planting from flash cards like this one below, but may not have the experiential knowledge that one gains from observing a seed germinating in real life. He may know that a cow gives milk, that a cow ‘moos’ and its young one is called a ‘calf’, but may not know from where exactly in the cow the milk comes from.

Sunflower-Life-Cycle-Flashcards

Did I make the point?

Knowledge! For children, the what of it that’s acquired’ matters as much as the ‘how it is acquired’. Even if we were to spend one whole year to teach our 4-year old child to memorize the country names on the map, is he going to remember all the names for the rest of his life?

Yes, facts are important. Yes, knowledge development in early childhood is very important. Knowing the names of colours, shapes, weekdays, months etc. are important. But if we, as parents, understood how knowledge matters to our children, most of us wouldn’t be needing aids like flashcards for our children. If you feel mad at me for saying this, let me direct you to the book, Einstein never used flashcards 🙂 Knowledge forms the foundation of the concepts and skills a child is going to learn in the future. If only we were to realize this, we would know where to focus – our children’s conceptualization of facts and not their ability to memorize facts. 

Getting back to what I started with, a child’s natural interest to know something may not seem significant to adults, like in our example, the animal poop on the road. But, it is actually that curiosity in the child which is the real beacon towards knowledge. What your child wants to know, matters, and that should form the most of what your child should know!

List of posts in the Series

The Art of Emphasizing Art to Children

Boredom in Children: How we handle a bored Child matters!

Children’s Collectibles: How Collectibles matter to Children!

DIY: How Do-It-Yourself matters to Children?

Experience Vs. Education: What do you think matters to Children?

Family Time: What it means to Children, matters!

Gender Identity and Roles: How Children perceive being a Boy or a Girl

Humour: Seeing Humour in Children – where it belongs to!

Independent Play: Allowing Children to do their Work

Junk: The Secret Ingredient of our Little Inventors!

#AtoZchallenge #BlogchatterAtoZ

Image Courtesy

Header Image – Photo by andres chaparro from Pexels

Flashcards – Twinkl

Child growing plants – Image by gearland from Pixabay

12 Replies to “Knowledge: What should Children Know?”

  1. Wonderful post! I am visiting your blog the first time and regretting why earlier I was not here to get more pointers about parenting.

  2. One can’t remember what one doesn’t have a base of knowledge to understand, anyway. Rote memorization doesn’t work. Curiosity is what builds the neural pathways.

  3. Hi Nandhini,

    Your post is very informative. I like that you satiate the curiosity of your child. We as adults see things as bad or ugly but a child sees everything with the same eye. So her questions regarding poop is very valid.
    You are right, curiosity of the child is real beacon toward knowledge. Observing the surrounding child learns the most- like you gave example of child growing on a farm vs a child growing in city.

    Read my K post here- https://evergreenleaf.blogspot.com/2019/04/k-karmic-connection-atozchallenge-2019.html

    1. Thank you. Yes, being with children is like relinquishing all that you know and starting to build your knowledge from the scracth.

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