I shared a post recently about some of the mistakes I made when I started homeschooling. I made the mistake of avoiding interest-led learning in favor of a specific curriculum course and a strict schedule. One of my amazing readers commented and asked me for more tips on encouraging interest-led learning. I decided it would be a fun time to write a post in case she isn’t the only one struggling with how to include interest-led learning. If you don’t homeschool, don’t look away just yet. Interest-led learning is great for all kids.
Encouraging Interest-Led Learning
These are tips from my experience. If you have an idea I haven’t shared please comment and let me know. Want to discuss education more? Join the More Than a Homeschool Mom Facebook Group.
Add to what you are already doing
Are you working with a writing curriculum that includes a writing assignment? What about letting that assignment be about something your child is interested in? You wouldn’t believe how many assignments I read about cheetahs.
What about Math? Does your child love Doctor Who? I have some Doctor Who inspired Math printables I created because one of my kids went through a big Doctor Who phase. They already have to learn their Math facts but it could be fun at the same time.
Be willing to adjust the schedule
Sometimes your child will fixate on a certain subject or concept during school. As moms, we can be so focused on what comes next that we can miss that interest. Instead of clinging to the schedule give your child some freedom to head down a rabbit trail for a bit. Spend some time on the internet researching what has their interest. Give them time to research and learn more about that. Your other lessons will be there when you are done.
Love your library
If you are going to encourage interest-led learning the library will quickly become a good friend of yours. I know that my knowledge on certain subjects is limited. The kids love that they can head into the library and pick up piles of books on subjects that genuinely interest them. This is also a great way to get in your required reading time each day. Instead of mandating a specific book, get them reading about something they genuinely love.
Youtube is the best!
Youtube is one of the first places I will go when my kids get really interested in a specific topic. We have it on our TV so we will watch a million videos about whatever topic has their interest. If you only knew how many tornado videos I have watched. I am pretty sure it is enough for three lifetimes. Some of the content on Youtube needs parental filters but you can find some great educational resources there.
Sometimes interest-led learning means letting your kids get creative and make something that goes with what they are learning. Hands-on learning is so important and letting kids get creative in how they learn about certain things can help them to make more connections to the material. If your child has discovered an interest in tornadoes, let them build their own tornado in a bottle. If they are all about cheetahs maybe it is time to design a cheetah mask. The options are endless.
Field trip it up
Maybe it is time for a field trip based on what really has their interest. I know we had our fair share of Busch Gardens trips to look at the cheetahs and have long talks with the keepers. Depending on what your child is interested in a field trip may be a great way to make even more connections with what they are learning.
Let them teach a lesson
If you want a really fun way to work with interest-led learning give your child a challenge. Challenge them to teach you all about that subject. You may be surprised by how much they are able to teach you.
Understand what interest-led learning is not
Interest-led learning is not an excuse to skip out on school work or get a break. Instead, it is taking a subject your child is passionate about and letting them explore that as far as their minds will wonder. You will be able to see the difference because a child that is genuinely interested in something will have a strong desire to learn about it. Interest-led learning isn’t a break from learning. It’s a redirection of learning.
For R, she would have spent an entire year learning about animals and nothing else. While this can be fun, there are certain things that she had to learn. We would use the animals as a fun incentive after the less desirable work was completed. It is completely ok to set limits in order to make sure your child gets a well-rounded education.
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