Evolutionary theory is a highly controversial topic, especially in very religious countries, such as America, where it’s generally thought that evolution jeopardises belief in God, and so it shouldn’t be taught in schools. As much as 73% of Americans identify themselves as Christians and only 20% are irreligious. Some creationist Christians believe that Earth was created around 10,000 years ago – a faith which is obviously at odds with evolution…and fossils.
As the parent of your child, it’s up to you to educate your child about scientific theory and evolution. For many people this is a daunting prospect, but don’t worry, you don’t need a degree in biology to explain the rudiments of evolution. Here are a few tips for educating your child:
Visual explanations often work better than verbal. Draw up a basic timeline starting with The Big Bang and finishing with the present day. Explain how we all developed from single cell organisms, so tiny that they’re invisible to the naked eye. Why does a giraffe have a long neck? – a question you can answer in your timeline.
King of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, is a great go-to guy for evolutionary theory. Write a story of Darwin’s travels (this’ll take some research) and his findings will naturally complement your explanation of evolutionary theory.
For a liberal approach to Darwinian philosophy, you can tell your child that evolution still means that God could exist (although maybe not in the same way that institutional religion portrays); in fact, Darwin himself was a believer and didn’t publish ‘On The Origin of the Species’ for decades because he was worried he’d shake Christian faith across the world. Whether you’re theist or atheist, there is room for evolutionary theory in your life.
Go To For A Fun Day Out
A trip to the zoo can highlight the similarities between animals and human beings for your child; especially primates. Hopefully this’ll also instil a more compassionate nature in your kid for animals and their environment, as we are just creatures too.
Alternatively, visiting a natural history museum will be equally, if not more, informative. Here, you can show your child examples of fossils and some exhibits even display the evolutionary process, step-by-step with skeletal remains.
Evolutionary Family Tree
You may have had fun in the past going through the family tree. Download one online and print it off to show your child how we’ve developed as a species over billions of years.
Pop To The Library
Wide reading is a great way to achieve understanding, and there are more books than you might think out there catered towards children on the topic of evolution. Pop to your nearest library and talk to a librarian about the options available. If your child is particularly interested in dinosaurs, this might be a great starting point – try to keep evolutionary theory interesting and fun, where possible.
Once your child has a basic knowledge of evolutionary theory, you can test them on the information they’ve acquired with a quiz. Use chocolate bars or other treats for rewards when they get questions right.
Article written by Tony – a blogger based in the UK writing on behalf of Knowsley Safari Park.