Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
16 May, 2024

5 tips for helping your child study the Humanities

5 tips for helping your child study the Humanities - 5 tips for helping your child study the Humanities

In our modern world, it’s more important than ever for us all to be able to understand those around us. As parents and educators, we all have a responsibility to foster an understanding of the Humanities because it’s a field that encompasses the study of human society and culture, allowing our children to thrive in our interconnected, globalised world. With that in mind, here’s five tried and trusted ways to help your child excel in the Humanities:



1. Habitual reading

It all starts with reading, which is the bedrock of education. It not only improves language skills but also broadens horizons and fosters empathy. In fact, stellar reading skills are pretty much non-negotiable for a 21st century education.

However, to really help a child love reading, they first and foremost need to be interested. That’s why we encourage letting young children read whatever they find engaging—be it wrestling magazines, Barbie comics, or sports magazines. The goal is to make age-appropriate reading a habit and a lifelong love. And, as children grow older, they can gradually be introduced to more complex material like historical narratives, philosophical discourses, literature, and beyond. Ask your child’s teacher for a list of fiction related to the themes they’re studying.

As one example of this in action, reading is a core part of the school culture at Nord Anglia in Manila. It’s an expectation that Humanities students always have a book on their desk or in their bag. You will see teachers carrying around books with them, or books being given out as fun prizes.



2. Engage with real-world events

Engaging children in conversations about current events helps them understand the world they live in on a deeper level. This will not only improve their general knowledge but also help them develop informed opinions about the world around them. It’s great for critical thinking too. Our students are exceptionally fortunate to be surrounded by friends and teachers from all over the world who share different outlooks on a range of issues. Being able to disagree cordially and to support arguments with precise supporting material helps us create citizens who will make the world a better place.

YouTube is a wonderful way to stay up to date, just so long as the content is educational. Documentaries can be engaging content too, or try shows like the student-friendly BBC Horrible Histories and podcasts like Hardcore History, which both come highly recommended. And if you’re going on holiday, tie it in with some local Geography or History.

Of course, it goes without saying that it’s important to discuss current events in an appropriate manner. Ask them questions like: how do you get your news? What are your thoughts about what you’ve seen? How did what you just read impact you?



3. Explore the world all around you

No matter where you live, there’s no doubt lots of amazing stories all around you to explore.

Have you taken your child to a nearby history museum or a local river recently? Or have you thought about researching the name of the street you live on to find out why it’s named the way it is? What is politics like where you live and what would your child do to make things better if they were in power for a day?

You can even work together to investigate your own family history, including your lineage and family tree. If that all sounds a bit too formal, try simply taking a drive around your town to explore nearby historical buildings. And if you’re on a bus, always sit at the top – the tops of buildings are often lesser seen and carry terrific insights into change across time.

Again, it’s important to encourage children to ask questions, seek facts, and formulate their own feelings about the world around them. This will foster curiosity and make learning an exciting adventure.




4. Creative projects

Encourage hands-on activities! This is a fantastic way to learn, particularly activities that allow students to practically apply their knowledge. Here’s some fun ideas you can get your child to try:

  • Build paper models of significant architecture in your city.
  • Create multimedia presentations on a cultural topic of interest.
  • Draw Picasso’s “Guernica” and ask about the devices the artist uses and what inspired it.
  • Turn a group of old teddy bears into a Roman army – who leads and what tactics do they use?
  • Get them to make their own Top Trumps about a topic they’re studying and play with you. Which card scores highest on various categories and why?
  • Personalise an old Trivial Pursuit board game with questions about their Geography curriculum.
  • Make a First World War trench or a castle using Roblox or Minecraft.
  • Research some old recipes like “trench cake” and have some fun in the kitchen.
  • Or listen to some Bob Marley, Nina Simone, or Tchaikovsky and see how their music comments on the world they live in.

These projects not only deepen understanding but also enhance problem-solving skills, preparing your child to thrive and become a critical thinker and global citizen.


5. Work closely with your school

Regardless of the subject matter, the ultimate goal is to make learning enjoyable and enriching for every child. So, talk to their teacher about topics they’re studying in the classroom, or even get them to read ahead if they're extra keen. Nord Anglia teachers are there to help after all!

One challenge teachers often set for students is to “teach the teacher” something they don’t know. Nothing empowers students more than the confidence they get in knowing this is ‘their subject’ and something they’re good at.

Overall, the point of Humanities is to teach children the fascinating lessons of the world around us so they’re able to reason and live with others (even those they disagree with), and to learn how to devise solutions to global issues. This is the essence of Humanities and aligns with our goal of inspiring children to make our world a better place.


About Daniel

Daniel Guiney has 25 years in teaching and is currently Secondary Coordinator and Head of Humanities at NAIS Manila. He previously taught at our school in Shanghai Pudong and prior to joining Nord Anglia, taught in Singapore, Cairo, and his native UK. He is also an educational writer who has written several books about history to support IGCSE and IB students and enjoys creating educational content on YouTube.