One family’s daily learning ritual — and their top 10 TED playlist

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Erin Freschi, a California mom who has worked in education for nearly 25 years, has a ritual with her 8-year-old son, Sawyer. At the end of each day, Freschi and her son wind down together by watching TED Talks and TED-Ed Lessons. Below, read how their learning ritual began — and check out their top 10 TED playlist:

It all started when Sawyer was in first grade, says Freschi. “He is pretty advanced for his age, and he was getting bored with the books and things he was getting for homework. We used to Google things that came up during the day. But we got to a point where we were running out of things to Google.”

Then Freschi watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk in a work meeting, and she knew she wanted to share it with her son.

“Sinek talks a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sawyer just loves him,” she said. “That night I showed [the talk] to him, and he loved it.”

The ritual has stimulated Sawyer’s appetite for learning — and strengthened the mother-son bond. “We’ve always been close, but it just gives us this secret world we can share,” said Freschi. “It’s a special time for us to learn and think about new ideas together.”

Her husband joins in now, too.

“This week, we watched Greg Gage’s talk about do-it-yourself neuroscience tools. It was the first time Sawyer had heard the term ‘neuroscience,’ so we talked a little bit about that. And then he said, ‘I want one of those machines. Daddy, could you make one of those?’ It got him excited about the brain and how it works.”

Sometimes, the family watches TED Talks; sometimes they opt for TED-Ed Lessons.  Both have opened up new conversations, including one about recycling, inspired by the TED-Ed Lesson: “The life cycle of a plastic bottle.”

“We’ve always been recyclers, and we try hard not to be wasteful, but it brought the concept home for him,” said Freschi. “It made more sense than, ‘Mommy and Daddy say we have to recycle.’ He’s always had an inquisitive mind, and you kind of hit a wall sometimes. Talks can spur that excitement again.”

Sawyer, who says that one of his goals in life is to be President of the United States, loves science and history, and says he’s interested in any talk that has to do with civil rights.

“I believe in civil rights,” he says. “I want to be a civil rights leader, actually.”

Erin and Sawyer’s Top 10 TED playlist:

  1. BLACK: My journey to yo-yo mastery
  2. Joshua Klein: A thought experiment on the intelligence of crows
  3. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
  4. Greg Gage: How to control someone else’s arm with your brain
  5. Anand Varma: A thrilling look at the first 21 days of a bee’s life
  6. David Christian: The history of our world in 18 minutes
  7. Chris Hadfield: What I learned from going blind in space
  8. Anthony Hazard: The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you
  9. Emma Bryce: What really happens to the plastic you throw away
  10. Eleanor Nelsen: Why do your knuckles pop?

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  1. Dana Quist

    My 7th grade daughter and I started watching Ted Ed lessons and Ted Talks this summer. Reading to her was always part of our bed time ritual but when she got a little old for that, we started watching Ted Ed lessons instead and it has been fantastic in many ways. It’s a way for us to still connect at the end of the day, it gives us something to talk about (sometimes laugh about), it takes her mind off any troubles of the day and fuels her interest in a wide range of topics. I really can’t say enough about how much I love our new ritual! Keep them coming Ted-Ed!

  2. Bill

    Fantastic idea… Thank you.

  3. Bill

    Great idea

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