If you are a parent (or grandparent), you know how happy you are when your child decides to try participating in some activity you enjoy. You have hopes of spending hours together, lost in your mutual interest. Easy does it! You have to be very careful to let them choose the activity on their own or your enjoyment will be brief, as they move on to something else because you pushed them too hard.
Grace, my oldest grandchild, often comes into my library when I'm importing the day's photographs in Lightroom and makes comments on the ones she likes best. We always talk about why she likes the photo, and after 10 minutes or so, she goes off to play. She has seen Daddy and Grandpa taking pictures her whole life, so the camera is nothing strange, but she has never asked to try it.
A couple of weeks ago, she asked if she could borrow my Nikon point and shoot. The P6000 is a little thicker than most point and shoots, but it fits easily in her little hands. (And it shoots in RAW and has GPS!) She went off with Grandma, and I stayed far away, so I didn't overwhelm her with my enthusiasm and destroy her desire to take photos. I set the camera to P mode - for pre-schooler in this case. ;-) She shot about 150 pictures and had a blast.
You might think it's crazy to let a five-year-old have a camera, but, really, what could happen? She isn't going to toss it to the ground or throw it in the sprinkler. As long as she is pointing and shooting, there really is no way to hurt the camera. Take a chance with your kids, and let them have fun. It gives them a opportunity to expand their vision. Try not to "help" them decide what to shoot. Let them make their own decisions and feel grown up. If they ask a question, just answer the question and avoid going into long dissertations (especially hard for me). Avoid making judgmental opinions on their art, or they'll lose interest quickly. If you play it right, they'll have fun; learn a new skill; and you may gain a new photo-buddy.
When Grace showed me her pictures, I was very pleased with the outcome. The photos were naturally properly focused, with an acceptable exposure - that's what "P mode" is designed to do. She did a great job with the subject framing, all on her own. She explained what she liked about the pictures as we imported them into Lightroom and chose her favorites to put up on the internet. These photographs have not been touched by Photoshop; two were cropped, with her approval, to remove stuff in the background. I put her comments down because I wanted to know why she chose her topics. I know what you're saying: "All grandparents think their grandkids are great." I am aware of this tendency, and have, therefore, conducted a highly objective evaluation. The results were irrefutable - my grandkids are, indeed, perfect. I hope she continues, and, someday, we'll go out together to play with our cameras. But I won't push; I won't push; repeat after me, I will not push her. ;-) Here are her shots and comments. If you like them half as much as I do, then she did a good job.