8 ways to improve general knowledge in children

Posted by ~Summer~ on February 22, 2018

I've always believed that learning goes way beyond the classroom. We can see so much, hear so much and learn so much from everything around us. That is why while I try to cultivate a love for reading in my kids, I also encourage them to go outdoors, get up close with nature, take an interest in geography and history, observe our surroundings, ask questions about how things work and understand more about the world we live in.

As my eldest embarks on her Primary 3 journey this year, one thing that makes me glad is that she is not just an avid reader but also an inquisitive learner. Yes, that means I might have to answer dozens of questions a day just to satisfy her curiosity but if it helps her, and sometimes both of us, to pick up new knowledge and learn new things together as parent and child, why not?

She has also started on composition writing since last year and it's quite evident to see that while she has a long way to go and there is plenty of room for improvement, this thirst she has for books and knowledge has helped her face her fear of writing on a blank canvas, be capable of churning out contents and progress gradually over time as a confident learner.

As parents, do you think it is important to help our kids build up their general knowledge and does this impact their writing skills? I would definitely say 'Yes' to both.


As part of British Council's Young Learners programmes, a group of school children aged 10 to12 years old came together to film a light-hearted video that talks about the importance of good general knowledge for composition writing. I thought the theme was very interesting - "Imagine you are an astronaut in space and you are going to write a letter home. What would you say?" as it makes the students sit down to think about the knowledge they possess and the content they have to offer. You can watch the full video here or click 'Play' below.

Personally, I believe that it is beneficial for kids to possess general knowledge which will in turn translate to better writing skills. Having a strong fundamental knowledge and good understanding of how the world works will give you more substance, instead of fluff, in your writing. Even though grammar and vocabulary are also important, it is crucial that you at least have the contents up your sleeve which makes you sound credible and gives you the power to impress your readers. This provides the confidence and self-assurance one needs to get from the beginning to the conclusion.

With a strong belief in pushing children's boundaries when it comes to world knowledge, British Council's innovative teaching approach motivates its students to think deeply and critically as confident individuals. This can give the children an edge when it comes to schoolwork, including composition skills, especially for young kids like mine who are in the lower primary level and getting acquainted with writing for the first time. To find out more about the English for Primary courses offered by British Council, go here.

In our capacity as parents, we try our best to instill a love for learning and a thirst for knowledge in our children from a young age. Here's sharing the eight ways in which I try to help my kids enhance their general knowledge:
1) Instill a love for reading and visit the library regularly

We make regular trips to our neighbourhood library every few weeks and the kids always look forward to these trips. They will choose a handful of books, which is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, to read on the spot and pick a few favourites to borrow and take home. Since my eldest was a toddler six years ago, we've cultivated a habit of bedtime reading in our household and kept it going strongly even when we go overseas or when we've had a truly busy day. Now, all three kids look forward to our bedtime storytelling session which is a must before they go to sleep every night.

2) Build up a collection of non-fiction books

Set aside some shelves in the home as a library corner for the kids. Let the books be within their reach so that they can feel free to take a book to read anytime. To help improve general knowledge, make sure that there is a good mix of both fiction and non-fiction reads which are suitable for their different ages. You can also include encyclopedias, magazines or any educational materials to broaden their options and encourage them to read different genres of books from time to time.

3) Go to museums, zoos and nature reserves

Going outdoors is a fun bonding experience for the family but it can also be a great learning opportunity for the kids. We always leave our weekends free - that means no work, no blogging, no enrichment classes - so that we can go and explore different places. Bring the kids to museums, zoos, nature reserves or parks, ask them to keep an eye open and observe their surroundings, read the information boards and learn as much as they can.

4) Do mind maps and flashcards

Since last year, we've been making flashcards for our girl whenever she is keen to learn about a science concept, for instance on the water cycle, photosynthesis, how fire is made etc. These are basically just notes that we jot down on a piece of paper and include diagrams whenever we can. On her own, she has also started learning about mind maps in school and done it by herself too. Doing this helps the child to visually organise information and retain memory of what has been taught or learnt.

5) Read and summarise newspaper articles

Since she loves to read so much, I started a new routine this year and that is to let her start reading newspaper articles and get to know more about current affairs. It's not a lot, but it's a good start for an eight-year-old. Every month, I will pick out a handful of interesting articles, cut them out and stick them into a scrapbook for reading in her free time. I've also told her that she will soon learn summary skills and tell me a line or two about every article she has read so that it helps her to remember too.

6) Watch news and documentaries

We don't let the kids play with phones or tablets (we don't even own an iPad yet) but we do let them watch a little TV every day. That said, we limit the time on how much time they have to watch, be it cartoons, music videos, movies or variety shows. At the same time, we encourage them to watch the news with us or watch documentaries too. Their current favourites are the ones on Netflix which talk about animals and I must say they have learnt much about so many animal species, including their habitats, characteristics and behavourial traits too!

7) Observe and learn from the surroundings

Learning can take place anywhere, be it at home or outdoors. I think we have to always remind ourselves that and don't let ourselves or our kids be confined to just textbooks, assessments books or classroom walls. For instance, a visit to the loo prompted my kid to ask me about where does our waste go, a cup of water she drank gave birth to a conversation about water treatment and NEWater, a trip to Peirce reservoir let them come up close and learn about apple snail eggs, a walk in the park gives them the chance to see different kinds of bugs and observe how they behave and so on. Let our kids be exposed to their surroundings, ask them questions and make them ponder, give them a chance to develop their own thinking skills and be eager learners.

8) Encourage curiosity and creativity

Kids are curious by nature. As parents, we can help to nurture our child's natural curiosity by showing interest in what they have to say or ask. I know, it's hard to answer so many questions a day when we need to get on with life, with chores and with whatever is keeping us on our toes. However, if we want to fuel our child's desire to learn, then we have to be a mentor whom they can turn to anytime knowing that they will not be discouraged, they don't have to be scared about asking what seems like a trivial or insignificant question and they have the freedom to come up with the most creative answers. After all, if they can't turn to the people they trust the most, who else can they go to?

What other tips do you have about improving general education in our children? Do share with me in the comments and let's work together towards raising kids who have a passion to learn, are not afraid to ask and love to acquire new knowledge.

British Council conducts courses for Pre-school, Primary and Secondary levels across four centres (Napier Road, Marsiling, Tampines, Toa Payoh). To register for their courses, go here or call 6807 1589. For more information, visit www.britishcouncil.sg or follow them on Facebook.  

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between British Council and A Happy Mum. All photographs and opinions are purely my own.


  1. Thanks for sharing the tips! Very handy!

    Mrs Lim

    1. Thanks! Glad you find them useful! :)

  2. Love the library tree ��
    Your kids are fortunate to have so many different kind of learning moments.
    And of course, so blessed to have you as their mum! Keep up the good work ��

    1. Oh yes the library tree is my fav corner in the house too! Kids nowadays have access to so many resources and learning opportunities, we just need to teach them how. Thanks for your kind words of couragement!


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