Chances are your child has an obsession in his life. A topic he devours in every way. Maybe you have a creative and artistic child who spends their days painting and drawing and creating anything that comes into their head. Maybe you have an animal lover who wants to know everything about dinosaurs, whales or deadly creatures. Maybe history is more his style- with interests in Pompeii, the Pyramids or the sinking of the Titanic. Whatever your child’s interests are, how can you feed those interests and help him dig deeper and know everything he wants to know and more?
1. Books, Books and more Books!
Books are one of the most versatile resources out there. You can get them on any topic for any audience. And if you child has an interest that doesn’t lend itself to a ton of hands-on experiences, books can be the next best thing.
Don’t limit yourself or your kids to one type either…you can choose from encyclopedias, story books, fact-based or field guides. Books can take your child to any world he wants to explore, arm him with information and make him an expert. And don’t forget to let him do some of the choosing. The non-fiction section of the library is full of treasures just waiting to be discovered!
2. Find Field Trips
Hands-on exploration is one of the best things for an intense interest. Got a sea life buff? Take them to an aquarium or to the lake/ocean. Even the fish section of the pet store has knowledge to share. My son has deep interest in trees and I use that interest when I plan outings- we go to the Arboretum, the Cradle of Forestry and the botanical gardens. You don’t have to go far or spent a lot of money, but you do have to spend the time finding those places and make it a priority to make the trip happen.
3. Let him be the expert.
The best way to learn something, is to teach it. So learn from your child, and I don’t mean ask questions you already know the answer to, but real genuine questions. Everyone in our family knows who to ask when we need a tree identified. And when we go on field trips I can see my kids feed off of each others enthusiasm. If you have multiple children, let them teach each other while you take a backseat to teaching for a moment.
4. Listen. I mean really Listen.
You know when your kids are interested in something they tend to go on and on and on about it? And you start to zone out because who can hear one more thing about Skylanders or Bionicles or Captain Underpants? I am not saying you need to be super interested in those, but you have a choice as to what your give your positive attention to. When you feed an interest with your attention your child will naturally go further to get more of that attention. So next time your five year old starts rattling off facts about the dinosaurs, put everything down and turn your 100% attention to that conversation. If your child wants to tell you about his magic trick, his newest invention or how many species of Oak there are, turn and actively listen.
5. Don’t ruin it.
This one might be specific to homeschooling parents out there, but when your child shows an interest do not run to the computer and open Google and Pinterest and start planning out your next unit study. Nothing kills an interest faster than turning it into work. You’ll suck the life right out of the topic and probably ruin the chances that your child will come to you and share any future interests. Open your eyes and see the value in what they are doing- the reading, the drawing, the building, the conversations- that is their very own unit study and they are in charge of it. Don’t ruin their love by taking over.
© 2013 – 2016, Sarah R Toney. All rights reserved.