I love taking my boys out to different places. I feel that getting out of the house and visiting various locations in our community exposes them to people and experiences that help shape their personalities and cognitive skills. They are both very curious beings and I have such a great time watching them express their curiosity in their own ways.
Over the years, I have learned through reading or my own experience that this on-site/hands-on learning aids in achieving better grades and comprehension of school material, increased cognition and higher inquiry skills. I believe this is due to developing a strong level of background knowledge that allows the child to connect to what they are learning. In education, we teach students to make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections. I find that I have to spend a great amount of time guessing how much background information I have to give my students before reading even the shortest of text or giving them a writing prompt. My students who have never left Bellevue, let alone travelled across the bridge into Seattle, are the ones I have to think about and preteach vocabulary and concepts for.
Kids can make these links at any age. Some examples of one of my boys making connections to his background knowledge are
- While reading a book with a picture of a hen, Brandon imitated his experience of chasing chickens at the Kelsey Creek Farm.
- Brandon put on the plastic fire hat he got at the Bellevue Fire Department’s open house when we got to the fire truck in Emergency Rescue.
- Seeing the excitement and look of recognition in Brandon’s face when he saw animals for the first time at the Woodland Park Zoo that he had only seen in books.
And who knows? Maybe their experience at one of the places we go to during their childhood with inspire them to pursue a certain profession. A future zoologist? Fire fighter? Veterinarian?