Creating A Space for Your Child’s Interests

One of the best parts about unschooling and following a ‘curriculum of curiosity‘ is watching what your child shows interest in. It’s beautiful to watch them enthralled by a subject. The beauty of curiosity is in it’s ability to transform into knowledge and effortlessly inform.

In my recent post about unexpected interests, I shared how sometimes (oftentimes for me with my eldest) kids surprise you with what they want to know more about.

Back in the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series, we spoke about identifying an interest. Today I wanted to encourage you to honor your child’s interest and create a space for it (both physically and metaphorically) regardless of what it is.

Metaphorically, we need to give them the space too. It is important to sit back and let them lead how the interest unfolds. Let the interest develop and evolve organically. It can sometimes be hard to not jump in and provide too much help and/or information. It’s crucial to give them space to ask questions and seek answers themselves.

Somewhat related, it can be hard to see the value in something your child finds fascinating. Sometimes it is a character or game, or even something you don’t particularly like. But what we need to remember is that this life long love of learning we are facilitating depends on us nurturing these interests. We have to protect their enthusiasm.

Children need to feel that our wonderful rich varied world is interesting in all the ways that they discover. They need to feel that what makes them curious and makes them wonder is significant and important to us. Children needn’t feel like there is a hierarchy of importance of knowledge.

The only hierarchy is their own inner guide of curiosity.

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After watching mosquitos in our sandpit and swatting them away at various creeks we have been visiting, Cam is now obsessed with mosquitos. We have been watching HD videos of mosquitos laying eggs and biting humans. It’s brilliant to watch his eyes wide with wonder watching the abdomen of a mosquito swell with blood.

I certainly wouldn’t pick it as an interesting topic to investigate and learn about, personally. But it’s important to him and the questions flow effortlessly. Ultimately, this is how natural learning unfolds. Not by force nor simply by chance; but by allowing that space for curiosity to flourish as well as showing that you respect their interests.

Creating a tangible space (strewing and/or a provocation) that aligns with their interest is the best way to show them that you’re listening.

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So when he excitedly asked about mosquito babies, I decided to create a little space for his interest. I purchased some life cycle figures and found a book that shows his very favourite part about them (and the part we all hate!) – a mosquito sucking blood.

Cam is pretty used to me creating these spaces now. But the little knowing smile when he came across this set up was something that spurred me to write this post.

The key is to tune into and accept your child’s unique interests and curiosity. That way we can live a life enriched by the happy pursuit of genuine passions and meaningful experiences.

Ultimately I want him to guide the path. I’ll be here encouraging him to go deeper and find his own solutions. Giving him the space – both a tangible and metaphorical space to explore, is the answer.

Do your child’s learning spaces involve their interests?

Parenting a Headstrong Child Respectfully

I have wrote previously about parenting my sensitive child respectfully. Today I wanted to write about parenting a headstrong child respectfully.

When you hear about headstrong children – or strong-willed, spirited, even ‘stubborn’ or ‘difficult’ – it’s often negative.

My daughter is at a different space in the social and emotional spectrum. Before she could talk, she had already asserted her feelings and her ownership over herself and her wants. I knew I had to learn a whole new set of mothering tools to help nurture the person she is.

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Lucy is only 2.5 years old but she has made her strong personality clear. She is not afraid to tell you what she thinks and needs a damn good reason to not do something that she wants to do. Even after a reasonable explanation, she’ll often keep going; willing to prove her point regardless. She loves fiercely and isn’t one to follow.

Her headstrong personality lends itself to being unapologetically herself. She already is self-motivated and is happy to go after what she wants.

Boy, do I adore this girl! I want to protect all that she is and help nurture those attributes that could otherwise be seen as unfavourable.

Just as some people view Cameron’s shyness and difficulty in social situations as a result of my parenting choicesso too do people see a headstrong toddler as a byproduct of parenting. But just as it’s a character trait of his, her nature is inherently part of her too.

Like being ‘shy’, being headstrong has a social stigma too. I’ve been told by various friends and family that “she’s a handful” and “she’ll be trouble” all the way through to much more offensive descriptions and ‘warnings’.

Parenting a strong-willed child can be hard. If you let it, there can be power struggles. You can’t control your child, but you can choose to control your response. Really, like with any other parenting challenge; respect is mutual when you listen, are empathetic, give choices and set limits.

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Ultimately, I accept every one of my children’s personality traits. I see their uniqueness and I focus on the positive. I think we should be celebrating the attributes our kids naturally have!

I think both of my children are brilliant. I love their unique innate selves. I think this is what parenting is about! We needn’t pressure or coax our children to conform to some ‘norm’. Not only is it ineffective but it’s harmful.

I know that personally as a child I was very headstrong but I was also shy. I had both of these characteristics that my children do as well as a myriad of other attributes. I remember being called bossy and manipulative as well as being teased for being quiet and a loner. I can see now that often these characteristics were seen as undesirable for my parents.

It seems like society places some form of Goldilocks pressure on kids. Not too soft, not too hard. Not too quiet, not too loud. Not too obedient, not too disobedient. Not too calm, not too hyper. & so on and so forth.

Yet all of us adults feature on this massive spectrum of personality. Despite years of conforming and judgement for certain traits, we are still a huge variety of personalities and strengths and weaknesses.

Still, many of us wear the emotional scars that prove how both ineffective and harmful this conformity is. Do we not? I bet you can think of examples.

So why not celebrate these differences in our children. Celebrate this rainbow of personalities and help nurture them to be the best person they can be WITH these traits, not in spite of them.

Parenting a Headstrong Child Respectfully

This Week of Learning

Our week…

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We started off our week at the creek with friends as we often do.

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We found moss, as I discussed in a previous post.

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We collected fallen flowers.

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We saw a wild goanna.

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Then we played some maths games with our cuisenaire rods.

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Our co-op met at a local water park for lots of fun!

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I had my little niece for the day.

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Cam has been ‘writing’ letters to many people with our new gorgeous little letter box.

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Lucy enjoyed some sorting.

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We went on a whale watching cruise!

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We sat right behind here so Cameron could see the boat captain and watch all the action.

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We were fortunate enough to see three whales – a mother, baby and escort. The baby breeched and was super playful.

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Cameron loved seeing the huge container ship going past.

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I finally snapped a photo of one of Cameron’s drawings. He drew all of these bees and played for hours with the paper making elaborate stories about pollen shortages, storms, goannas trying to hurt the hive.

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Cam’s drawings are typically very active and often used in play.

Now pop over to my lovely friends and see how they spent their week:

Happiness is here | Memoirs of a Childhood | An Everyday Story

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Yoga for Kids

October is Doc-Tober for Disney Junior! Your preschooler can see Doc McStuffins and her toy friends in new episodes on the Disney Junior TV channel and enjoy brand new Doc games and activities on DisneyJunior.com.au.

In a time where everything is about doing and having more; relaxation for kids is so important. You may have seen that we started basic yoga when Cameron was a toddler. Cameron mentioned yoga again when we were talking about different sports and activities we do to stay healthy during our Doc McStuffins game.

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Yoga also enables kids to connect more deeply with their inner self. Yoga from an early age arms kids with these useful skills quicker and more efficiently. I also love that yoga is a physical activity that is not competitive.

It’s such a simple way to help your kids and connect with them.

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Benefits of yoga for kids

Helps Calm and Relax

When kids are exposed to techniques for breathing and relaxation, they are more likely to handle challenges in life. Yoga is unique in its focus on breathing and relaxation and is so beneficial for everyone including children.

More Flexibility and Strength

Children are born with a natural flexibility and yoga can help them prolong this. Working on strength and balance is so important for growing bodies! Muscle strength and flexibility help kids when they are injured too because they heal faster and are less severe.

Increased Self-Esteem

When children are successful in yoga, it really increases their confidence and self-esteem. Because they are given the time to themselves and are able to work on their focus, they can use these skills to help them with other issues.

Helps Them Live In The Moment

Yoga philosophy teaches present moment awareness. When children are engaged, focused, having fun, and following a yoga lesson, they are in the present moment. This allows children to learn self-control, and enhances their focus.

Enhances Body Awareness

Yoga poses vary so much and need variations of strength, balance and flexibility with twisting and stretching. The poses can teach a child about their body. Yoga allows kids to listen to their bodies and feel movement. Body awareness is an invaluable tool for all stages and ages of life.

My kids love using yoga poses to explore movement and mimic animals. They always seem more energized, calm and happy afterwards. We have the Yoga Pretzels cards and remember many after doing them so often. However, there are many resources (try Pinterest) with free kids yoga poses online.

Have you tried yoga with your kids?

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This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.

October is Doc-Tober for Disney Junior! Your preschooler can see Doc McStuffins and her toy friends in new episodes on the Disney Junior TV channel and enjoy brand new Doc games and activities on DisneyJunior.com.au.

Unexpected Interests

Unexpected Interests

Kids are interested in such unexpected subjects and with seemingly insatiable enthusiasm.

I’m part of this awesome group on Facebook called “my unschooler is interested in…” which is meant for other unschooling families to contribute low cost and outside-the-box ideas for exploring and/or expanding on the topic. However, my favourite thing is just seeing the hugely varied and sometimes random things that kids fixate on when given the opportunity to explore everything and anything in their world.

From a five year old interested in taxidermy to an nine year old who loves coding; kids can sometimes be interested in the most unique topics.

This is one of the reasons I love unschooling. Most of the things that Cameron gets really interested in, I wouldn’t think to ‘teach’ him. My 4.5 year old has learned about many of the common flags around the world thanks to the World Cup and his huge interest in soccer. He took a keen interest in gravity (or ‘grabity’ as he says) and space stations recently.

It’s beautiful to learn who he is through exploring what makes him happy and what he is passionate about. I love that he never hesitates to ask me a question and nothing is off bounds. I treat every question the same and answer in age appropriate ways with as much information as he needs at the time.

Learning is about making connections—connecting new information to something you already know. It helps to recognize that the best learning is really a byproduct of living; having a real, concrete reason to learn something is great motivation. With unschooling learning new facts and skills is more a side effect: bits and pieces of information they need to know along the way to accomplishing something. So whatever they are interested in at the moment will be the basis for the best learning. Not to mention the most fun and interesting!Living Joyfully

Sometimes as well, the interest unfolds in a unique way. Cameron’s interest in dinosaurs wasn’t overly atypical, but when I realised that his real focus was on how they died and extinction in general; I discussed theories with him and introduced him to more materials and resources on extinction. From this, his interest flourished into something new and really exciting for him.

Just today he was crouched down staring intently at something. I went to see what it was and was met with “Mummy, what’s this?”

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“That’s moss” I replied. Lucy came to inspect too and the questions started flowing.

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He felt it and asked to take some samples home. He even took our friend and showed her.

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It’s through these obscure interests that he learns so much.Without even knowing it he learns and refines the ‘basics’ through representing his knowledge, seeking answers and researching about his topics alongside me.

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The thing I love is that the realisation that his interests have value to me and others has meant he learns even more things that are uniquely meaningful to him.

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I wouldn’t have thought to talk to my nearly-5-year-old about moss or spores or plant classification. But here I am answering his questions and figuring out a way to see what it looks like under a microscope.

Because I’m met with more questions and wide smiling eyes. Because he finds it interesting and who knows where it will take us?

What have your children shown an interest in that surprised you?

Unexpected Interests Racheous