Inside:  To challenge your child’s mind can be difficult at the best of times.  During the pandemic, these are not the best of times. So, if we have the time to, how can you challenge your child’s mind in the midst of lockdown? 

To challenge your child’s mind can be difficult at the best of times.  During the pandemic, these are not the best of times.  And, in many areas of the world, second national lockdowns have arrived in response to a growing number of covid-19 cases. Many schools and colleges are still open (depending on which country you are in).  But, it’s true to say that for many, almost all of our free time is now organized and experienced at home.

This means that before long, our children can again begin bouncing from the walls or become sad with boredom.  They are craving the social experiences they didn’t realize they had become accustomed to. You don’t have to be a bad parent to experience this difficulty. However, it’s true that allowing our children to just sit in front of the television all day is a sub-optimal solution. So, if we have the time to, how can you challenge your child’s mind in the midst of lockdown? 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Well, you can have a certain amount of fun. Playing dress up as you shop for John Lennon glasses for your home talent show and performance, or taking some time to watch a documentary together can be a great idea. But what else is there? Let’s consider:

Challenge Your Child’s Mind with Science-Focused Video Games

Science-focused video games to challenge your child’s mind?  They can seem like a little bit of a cop-out, but you’d be surprised how effective they can be. They help you connect with your child, help expand creativity, and generally help you both bond over concepts and educational principles you may not have considered. But what examples of video games are there that work in this way? 

Well, Phys1 and Phys2 are known for their accurate physics simulations.   They provide a toolkit that lets you experiment with scientific principles and how they play out in the wider world. Kerbal Space Program is a classic, offering you a means to build your own rocket ships with the ultimate goal of achieving orbit. This is heralded for its accurate simulation and scaled modelling of our solar system. Universe Sandbox helps model our universe to scale. It gives you the tools to explore, expand and enhance your thinking about this strange cosmos we find ourselves in. If nothing else, these tools should serve to open your child’s mind and realize just how much wonder there is out there.

Image by Speedy McVroom from Pixabay

Showing Them Recent News has Value

Okay, recent news has been quite challenging for even the most headstrong adult to consider.  I accept that. But there’s value in showing your children the developments of the recent Covid-19 vaccine, for instance, such as watching the press conferences or explanations as to how scientists have come to this conclusion.  Exploratorium educational website has lots of articles and some activities that focus on the virus causing this pandemic.  Its a great place to start looking for kid-friendly news.

The news around conservation efforts and how science is helping the natural world can be quite engaging to see, even for a younger audience. Bill Gates and his expressive means of explaining TerraPower, his clean nuclear energy program, is also considered quite important.   It is quite impressive information for the development of renewable, safeguarded energies. You don’t have to have your children reading broadsheet articles for them to understand those topics, but showing them how science is routinely validating and improving our world, even in response to harsh realities, can help them gain a healthy respect for it. At the very least, you’ll be including them in the conversation. They may even develop a healthy interest in these worthwhile topics because of that.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Teaching Them To Ask Questions

Teaching your children to ask questions, as emphasized above, is important. If you find that they take certain things for granted, as them how and why they know that. For instance, you can do this with quite simple scientific concepts.

You might place a lit match into a glass of water, and ask them why they think water extinguishes fire. They may have assumed that water smothering ‘space’ for the fire to grow may have something to do with it.  That is half true. Next, you might discuss oxygen.  How important is it for fuelling the fire?  Then you can discuss how fire can burn without oxygen from the air, provided a strong oxidizing component is present, such as chlorine or fluorine.

It’s healthy to not only have children asks questions, but also to question themselves.  This process helps them figure out just why they take certain things for granted. For instance, it’s not apparent to children that the air is mostly made up of nitrogen and not oxygen. Little questions and answers will ultimately help them begin to pose those of a more substantial nature.

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Playing simulation games, watching or reading age-appropriate science news and getting kids to ask questions about the world around them are awesome ways to challenge your child’s mind with science. Get them to record their findings in a science journal.  It will help them keep track of how their view of the world changes over time.  With this advice, I hope you can more easily challenge your child’s mind, even in the midst of lockdown.

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