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Teach Your Child How to Research Information

Teaching children to research information starts as a natural extension of daily life. It encompasses a set of skills that evolve throughout childhood and into adulthood. The ability to efficiently research information is vital to understanding and functioning effectively in our world.

But where to start? This article will consider several kinds of reference and research materials that are useful for teaching your child to research information. A natural progression from one information source to the next will probably follow your child’s development and growing curiosity about the world around them.


Even very young children are not always satisfied with Mom or Dad’s explanations to their questions of “Why? How? Who What? and Where? EWhen your youngster asks questions, you have a ready made “teachable moment E Going to a children’s picture dictionary to look up a dragonfly or a tornado might help you provide backup for your own explanations. Show them the words are in ABC order!

As children begin to understand that our world has many interesting places and people, a children’s atlas can be useful. Looking in the index first will show your preschooler there is a quick way to find where China is! Exploring the pictures and limited text will give them an idea of what kind of information can be found in an atlas.

Older preschoolers can also use the Internet to find out how marbles are made and what boa constrictors like to eat. The idea of keywords can be taught by saying, “Now, what do we want to know? ESorting out useful versus less useful or useless websites can be fun and teach them that some sources of information are more helpful than others.

Main points to address:

  • Early research will be generated by your child’s natural curiosity.
  • Keep a children’s picture dictionary and child’s atlas handy.
  • Use the Internet with your youngster for select searches.

Grades K-3rd

Children of early elementary age have many questions. Learning to effectively research will lay the foundation for fancier research later.

Children should be taught in school or at home how to begin to use the dictionary independently. This will not be fully accomplished until about age 9 or 10. Knowing that items are alphabetized, that there are guide words, and what each entry offers will take repeated use. Switching to an intermediate dictionary from a children’s dictionary can then be done.

Atlases provide lots of inspiration and fuel a child’s need to know about their world. Combining use of an atlas with the Internet is a good way to introduce the idea of multiple sources. Your child will delight in seeing the Iditarod dogs getting ready for the race (live) while learning about the climate in Alaska!

Again, knowledge of how to use the table of contents, index, glossary, keywords, and guide words will become more sophisticated with practice.

An important note: Make sure your child never uses the Internet without your direct, or a teacher’s direct supervision. Needless to say, the good is mixed with the useless, the questionable and the downright bad on the Internet. They will also learn more about researching information with your guidance.

The library can be a great place to learn to research. The simple task of finding a favorite author or looking up how to care for a hamster will develop important research skills.

Main points to address:

  • Children can begin to use the dictionary independently.
  • Combine use of an atlas with the Internet.
  • Always supervise your child’s use of the Internet.
  • Going to the library can help develop research skills.

Grades 4-6th

Upper elementary children will have multiple opportunities to research information in school. Researching “real Ethings- like environmental conservation, the world’s record in soccer goals or how to design a skyscraper delight children of this age.

Many schools are forsaking traditional research that employs original documents, books, periodicals and encyclopedias. But they remain important resources and should be used during these years to write reports, do badge work in scouts or just for personal knowledge.

Encyclopedias give concise and fairly complete information on many places, people, historical events, and creatures. Combined with a second source, such as the internet, they can provide the basis for more research.

Being able to back up findings with a second or third source is very important and appeals to this aged child. They love to “prove Ethings!

Again, use of the Internet still needs to be supervised and you may want to consider using some sort of parent filter to protect your child.

Helping your child to sort out essential information and organize their findings in a logical fashion is part of teaching them how to research. Create a Word file to record information or use index cards to do this, especially if they need to present their research.

Older elementary kids should be adept at using a dictionary by now and can begin using a thesaurus when writing.

The progression from following up on a preschoolers curiosity about the world to helping your 6th grader write a report for geography is indeed a natural one. Researching with your child can help them gain valuable skills and give both of you a time to interact and learn with each other.

Main points to address:

  • Older kids love to research “real Ethings.
  • Children still need to be able to use an encyclopedia, periodicals and books for information.
  • Help your child organize their findings with index cards or a Word file.
  • Keep a dictionary and thesaurus handy.
  • Continue to monitor Internet use.

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Education.

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