How to Turn Your Child’s Interests into Learning Opportunities
We all know kids learn best when they’re having fun! But if you’re new to supporting your child’s education, it can be hard to know where to start to create learning opportunities which don’t zap the fun out of their interest. Here’s a look at the simple things you can do to support them to learn from the topics they love:
Let your child lead
If you take the time to really get to know your child’s interests, you’ll find they can provide plenty of learning opportunities themselves. Chat to your children about what it is they find interesting about dinosaurs / video games / baking etc and see what questions and wonderings they have. Perhaps they’d be interested to find out the history behind a recipe or they’ve wondered if there’s a world record on a topic. Take time to listen to the things your child finds fascinating and investigate what else you can learn on the topic together.
Use your library
Google is the obvious place to find out more about any given topic, but if you’d like your child to have the freedom to explore more about their interest without the safety issues of the internet, search your local library database to see what they have available. You could hire out factual books or how-to guides in their interests or look out for stories which involve the topic.
Take a day out
Have a think about any historic attractions, museums or activities which fit in with the theme of their interest and take a day out to learn more! For example, if they’re fascinated by dinosaurs you could go for a beach day fossil hunting. If they love making caves on Minecraft, you could take a trip to a real cave or mining attraction and see what it really looks like underground.
Make the most of screentime
It’s easy to feel the guilt surrounding screentime but there’s no denying that technology allows us lots of learning opportunities for our kids. And, yes, it’s possible to avoid the boredom of Zoom learning! Have a look what TV series, films, age-appropriate YouTube documentaries or apps you can find linked to your child’s interests instead.
Set-up themed play opportunities
Kids learn so much through play, and watching our children play through their favourite themes is a good way to discover what else they might want to learn on a topic. To support extended play of their interests, think about how you can support their role play with a themed play area or have a look at board games that might link their interests with other learning opportunities like numeracy and problem solving.
Learn through experience
The best bit about using your child’s interests as a starting point is that you can skip the workbooks and really explore a theme through experiential learning. Whether it’s trying recipes, listening to new music, trying a new sport, trying out a new language or testing out experiments – think about how you can let your child use their sense rather than just read the facts.
Create a project
If you’re looking for structure to your child’s learning, setting them a project is a nice way to shape their discoveries around a theme. It could be as simple as asking them to create a scrapbook of what they’ve learned or perhaps encourage them to complete research before designing or making an end work.
Ask your child to teach you!
The act of teaching is a great way to learn, so try turning the tables and letting your child teach you about the things they love. You could ask them to use library books to learn more before they share the most interesting facts they’ve discovered or get your child to give you a tutorial on something.
Remember, not all learning is visible. As you support your child to explore their interests, you are teaching them how to be proactive, investigators who can find answers for themselves – an important skill for life.
Did you enjoy this blog? Take a read of our other articles on playful learning here.