Hello! Happy birthday to me! Sorry for the delay, I have been to Ikea for organisational items as part of our cull.
Identifying an interest
Today, in the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series, we are going to discuss how to identify and nourish your child’s interests.
You need to become a detective.
What is your child interested in? What are they asking about frequently?
Sometimes it will seem easy to identify strong interests. Other times, it’ll take some keen observation and digging deeper.
Children – particularly when they’re young – have tons of questions and seem to have many interests. Try to help them to slow down and develop interests alongside them.
Cam’s beloved map of Australia (from here)
Cameron, at 4 years old, is interested in soccer, racing cars, Australia and birds. These vary in intensity but are ongoing interests.
Identify what exactly they are interested in within their interest.
For example, Cameron doesn’t care about where a bird is from, but he can tell you what it looks like, what it eats and what it’s nest looks like. I could try to teach him about other aspects, but he simply wouldn’t retain any information because he’s not interested. Similarly, Cam is not keen to learn about different cultures or languages at this point, but loves to learn about the different states and territories in Australia and how far away they are from us.
So what can you actually do with this information? Well, it’s all about nourishing an interest and helping your child fully explore areas of their interest in different and meaningful ways.
However, it is trial and error. You will troubleshoot ideas and sometimes interests perhaps won’t be as fascinating as you initially thought they were to your child.
I have to highly recommend Lori Pickert’s book Project-based Homeschooling for anyone wanting to help a child to deeply explore their interests. I have no affiliation, I just genuinely love this book and learned so much from it!
Ultimately, you want to help your child to explore and link their learning experiences and encourage them to create different representations of what they are learning.
The most significant thing, and something that has taken me a long time to realise, is that these explorations, expressions and experiences need to happen an authentic and meaningful way. Meaning, unforced and for no-one’s benefit but their own. Sure, you are there to guide, offer tools and resources, and encourage their learning. But, your child will gain so much more from thinking of some way to develop their interest themselves.
Sometimes, as a child-based mama, I struggle with what my children show an interest in. Sometimes an interest can come across as ‘less worthy’. It’s hard to encourage and nourish a topic that you find yourself less than enthused about. But we need to honor and respect our child’s individuality and interests to help continue quality play and develop memorable learning.
For me, one such interest is Cameron’s adoration for racing cars. But I have learned that every topic has worth. Through his interest in racing cars, Cam has explored many topics (speed, types of engines, how a car battery works, safety in vehicles for example).
Documenting an interest
It is important to remember to record the learning that takes place and questions that arise from an interest. Encourage your child to document their learning and keep your own method of documentation (be it a journal, photos, mapping, etc).
This way you can properly track and help develop an interest (and remember ideas and resources to include to help your child). In order for the journal to be meaningful, you must reflect upon what you have recorded.
- Observe your child’s play and questions.
- Identify their interest and dig deeper to find the underlying interests to explore.
- Provide resources and materials for exploration and for them to create representations of their learning and thinking.
- Allow these experiences to happen an authentic and meaningful way.
- Respect your child’s individuality and interests.
- Document their questions, learning and developing interests.
- Reflect upon all of the above.
Here is the rest of the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series and make sure you’re following An Everyday Story’s posts too!