What children need to learn?

A mother wrote to me: “We have discussions about what our children need to learn. My husband wants to buy tablets and have them learn computer programming. I prefer to send them to the STEM school to play with robots and get them interested in technology. What should young children learn at the age of five and six?”

Answer: I believe the education of young children should begin with the development of the basics characters of being a good person. As parents, what you need is to teach them about moral characters such as righteousness, honesty, filiality, and the love of learning. With their love of learning, they can learn anything that they want and you should let them choose when the opportunity comes.


Every young child should learn to respect the teachers, be filial with their parents, and be righteous with others. As parents, you may need to work with their teachers to help them develop a good habit of learning. It is like planting the seed, you need to water and nurture them, so it will grow into a tree. To encourage your children to learn, you need to spend the time with them, talk to them, find the right books and reading with them and help them to develop these moral characters. Young children learn first from their parents. They observe their parents’ behavior because they want to be like “Mom and Dad”. They learn more from what their parents say and act so every parent needs to know that the way they talk, the way they treat others, the way they react to certain situations will be learned quickly by their children than anything that you teach them.

Today, many parents are busy so the challenge is how to manage the time for their children. There are many things that can take the precious time away from educating your children. But if the parents let other trivial things take over and only spend “whatever time left” for their children then they will have to live with the regret if their children do not grow up as expected.

As parents, you need to invest the time to train your children to become wise, righteous, and passionate who will grow up and do the right thing. The best education always begins at home. As long as parents lay down a good foundation for moral characters, your children will grow up and be a good person and whatever they like to learn later, whether programming or robotics I am sure they will do well.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University