How to Build on a Child’s Natural Interests

This weekend, I perused a review copy of Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick-Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in 2 Weeks, by Marie-Claire MoreauEd.D.  This guide provides a 14-day plan for parents who need to prepare to homeschool very quickly–intended for a child who had to leave school unexpectedly, for example due to health, social, academic, or emotional reasons.

Though the book itself is geared toward a subset of homeschoolers, Moreau’s website has broader appeal.  Among other resources, she provides articles that describe different styles of at-home education and videos about homeschool organization and approaches.  (Have you ever heard of Enki education?  I learned about it for the first time here.)

As part of Day Four of the Suddenly Homeschooling plan, Moreau prompts parents to list times when their children got excited about learning.  For example:

When he went to a friend’s house and talked to the dog breeder.

When she learned how to edit her photos using the online tutorial.

Any time she talks to people about music.

Moreau advises parents to use this list to determine what materials students might enjoy using when learning (books, online lessons, etc.) and what subjects he or she might find most compelling.  Parent-tutors who don’t homeschool can follow Moreau’s advice as well.

Think about when you’ve seen your children really want to explore a subject.  Did your young son collect a handful of leaves at the playground?

Did your teenage daughter figure out how to dismantle and repair the DVD player?  Then consider what these examples say about your children’s proclivities.  Are you encouraging your children to learn by way of these interests?

Maybe you can use those leaves to teach your son about the seasonal changes in deciduous trees.  Or you can encourage your daughter to learn more about the inner workings of mechanical devices and help her find out about college-level engineering programs.

Likewise, think back to your own childhood.  What did you do that fostered your love for a particular subject?  Think about whether your parents helped build on your interests.  If so, how?  If not, what could they have done?

In short, make the most of your child’s natural passions.  Your child’s school may not have the time to educate each student this way, but it’s a luxury that you, as a parent-tutor, can enjoy!

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