Kids are just beginning to understand the world, but their knowledge is limited. This makes sense because they have had fewer experiences than adults. But, with fewer experiences to draw upon, making connections and learning can be challenging. In this week’s blog we are going to talk about the importance of background knowledge, the information you already know about particular topics, and why having it is so important to understand what you read and how well you learn.
Why is Background Knowledge SO Important?
- It provides a solid foundation for comprehension. When kids have prior knowledge about a topic, it helps them make connections between what they already know and what they are reading or about to learn. This connection-building process enhances their understanding, allowing them to extract meaning from it more effectively.
- It increases vocabulary. When kids encounter new words while they are reading, listening to a podcast, or learning in class, background knowledge helps them make educated guesses about the meaning of those words. By connecting new vocabulary to their existing knowledge, kids can expand their vocabulary more easily and accurately.
- It provides contextual understanding. It helps them grasp the context of what they are reading. It helps them understand the setting, characters and events in a story more fully. For example, if a child is familiar with the concept of a zoo, they can better comprehend a story that takes place in a zoo environment.
- It fosters critical thinking skills. When kids have a foundation of knowledge in a particular subject, they can analyze, evaluate and make informed decisions about the information presented. This critical thinking process enables them to engage with the topic at a deeper level.
- It helps kids make connections between different texts. When they have prior knowledge about a subject, they can link information from various sources, compare and contrast ideas, and form a more comprehensive understanding of the topic. Teachers call this skill synthesizing, and it is so valuable for academic success.
- It increases motivation and engagement. If kids have an interest or prior knowledge about a topic, they are more likely to be actively engaged in reading or learning about it. They will also want to seek out related materials and experiences to learn more about the topic. This enthusiasm can lead to positive reading and learning experiences and encourage further exploration of new subjects.
Overall, background knowledge is vital for helping children understand what they read because it provides a foundation for comprehension, vocabulary development, contextual understanding, critical thinking, making connections, and fostering motivation and engagement. Encouraging kids to build and expand their background knowledge in various subjects will greatly benefit their reading skills and academic growth. Stay tuned…next week we will share HOW parents can help kids develop this critical background knowledge.