Exploring an area of interest helps children grow their vocabulary and background knowledge, gives them an outlet for creative self-expression, and helps them make sense of how the world works can even help them discover new interests. Importantly, it also creates a positive attitude towards learning that can have a lasting impact.
Here are ways you can motivate your child to learn through their passions more and ensure they are actively engaged in what they’re learning:
Engage all of the senses! Help make their interests visual through books, videos, or even trips or experiences like visiting a local fire station. Incorporate the sounds of a fire engine or make it tactile with a themed sensory bin. Experiencing it in these ways will help build a child’s understanding of the topic.
• Help kids make a connection to something new. Whether it’s really literal like watching the garbage truck come to your house and comparing/ contrasting with your child’s toy garbage truck, to something more abstract like relating how a character from your child’s favorite movie feels in a scene to a time your child is feeling something similar, building on what a child already knows is a great way to learn something new.
• Use it to incorporate something totally unrelated. One time, I tried to do letter play with my son and his magnetic letters, even giving each letter a personality and special voice. He wanted nothing to do with it. But he was in a phase of loving playing with trains on his train track, so I drew a track on butcher paper in the letters of his name. We had the best time decorating the track and creating a new way to play with his trains, and I was able to work the letters into our play (“I’m over here driving on the C, meet me over at the L”) in a way that wasn’t pushing him to do something he didn’t want to do.
• Spark some fun into daily routines or things a child might not want to do. A big mom win for me was when I was able to avoid a toddler meltdown leaving the park by suggesting we pretend to be race cars on the way home. You better believe I added sound effects and some race car vocabulary to the mix, too.
• Use it as an opportunity to connect with your child. This one may seem obvious, but there are so many educational and developmental benefits to simply having a conversation with your child that I couldn’t leave it off the list. Let your child drive the conversation about what interests them, ask questions, and add information to deepen their understanding of the concept. They will feel proud getting to share their interests with you and having some bonding time over something that matters to them. No materials or set-up required!
As parents, what can we do to support our children’s interests and incorporate their passions in creative ways?
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