At Digital Adventures, we have many opportunities to work with a variety of kids on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Our privileged position as instructional provider for technology based learning has enabled us to observe some key trends about what kids seem to value most. As a parent who is just starting out (rookie) or one who has been at this for quite some time (veteran), we thought it was important to share our findings with the community as we all play a key role in the development of the next generation.
Whether you have an introvert or extrovert, we have found that children love to engage in conversation. They like to talk about school, their favorite subjects, their pets, their siblings, their parents, their extracurricular activities, their favorite food and everything in between. As a parent, I’m often surprised to hear students in one of our camps or classes go on and on about their topics of interest when it can sometimes be difficult for me to engage with my own children in the same way. One strategy that I’ve found helpful when talking with kids is to look for the ‘spark’. The ‘spark’ is when they answer a question about a topic and their face just lights up. As parents, we often compartmentalize questions into specific buckets around school or after school activities. However, sometimes kids are passionate about one of the items they ate for lunch or a specific phrase they heard in school. Sometimes, it can take a long time to find the ‘spark’ for a conversation. But, when you do, you will be surprised by how your child goes on and on and you will be pleased by the new area of information you have learned.
Our most precious non-renewable resource is time. Children have learned this fundamental truth from a very early age. As a result, you will often see or hear them making comments about their parents smartphone usage. And, if you’re like me and use the application Moment
, you may be surprised by how much time is spent on your mobile device. In our learning studios, we restrict our instructor time on their mobile devices so they can be fully present in the education of our students. This is also something that I’ve started to incorporate into my home life. When I’m with the family, I limit my device time. This isn’t to say that work isn’t done at home. But, if I need to take a call, respond to a text or answer an email; I remove myself from the environment with my kids so that while I’m around them there is complete engagement.
Children are extremely curious about the world around them. They want to learn the who, what, why and how for everything around. One of the common challenges that I hear from adults (instructors and parents) who spend time with children is the number of questions that they ask on a daily basis. As educators, we are fortunate to be in a fertile environment as we are teaching about how to build with technology - a subject that students have an above average interest in. However, instead of being overwhelmed, we focus on the beauty of teachable moments that emerge from the questions. In addition, sometimes we realize that there are some questions that we don’t have an answer for. When those situations emerge, we will work together with students to discover the answer. There is something extremely powerful when students realize that instructors do not know the answer to everything but that they can partner with adults to expand their knowledge base. It is during these times when we see greater and greater internal ownership over their own educational journeys.
While there are many discussions that occur within our learning studios, one of the most consistent themes is how much kids enjoy a variety of enriching experiences. Whether it is going to the zoo to learn about animals to visiting Disney parks, or simply going for a walk around the block, kids develop lasting memory from the things they have done vs the things they have received. As a result of this insight, we are actively pursuing opportunities to make the wonderful world of technology more real to our students. This could be as simple as taking a field trip to a local technology company so they can better connect the dots between the projects they are building to what professional developers/engineers do professionally to a more involved multi-month activity such as participating in a First Robotics competition
We hope that our list of insights about the greatest gifts for kids has been useful. What other gifts have you found that kids appreciate?