How to Learn About Your Child’s Interests

A child combing through old processor boards and computer parts with interest.
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You're so busy doing the maintenance work – changing the diapers, making the meals, bandaging the knees. But do you actually know what makes your child tick? What do you know about your child's interests?

Let's talk about why you would need to know these things. The thought behind Child-Led Learning is that when a child is in charge of her own learning, her engagement is much higher. This increased engagement results in more motivation and ultimately better learning.

Knowing that play is the work of the child, it's helpful to acknowledge that what may look like play to most of us, is actually how the child is learning about the world around her.

You as the parent know your child better than anyone else. So how can you get a handle on what your child's interests are? In short, be present. Often we as parents are pulled in so many directions we find it difficult to stop multi-tasking long enough to take in our surroundings in any more than a cursory way. So, take a deep breath. Look around you. Is your child there? Great. Focus.

Observation

Taking time to observe your child can provide lots of feedback in terms of your child's talents, interests and motivation. How is this observation done? Sit, be still, and be quiet. If you look hard enough, without multi-tasking, you will learn so much about your child.

What does she enjoy playing with? Does she prefer playing alone or with others? How might she integrate herself into a bunch of children – or does she prefer to hang back from the group? Besides giving you information, this intentional observation can strengthen your relationship with your child.

Learning About Your Child's Interests By Spending Time Together

Besides observation, just spending time together with your child can give great insight into her potential hobbies and interests. Together you might read a book, watch a program, or try an art project. The feedback you get from these activities will be valuable in planning next steps.

Try Something New!

Expose your child to a broad range of experiences – trying something new might ignite a spark in her and send her in a new direction! One area that is often popular for children to explore is art. Providing a sensory rich environment will encourage your child to explore and possibly find great enjoyment through art.

Regardless of the field trips, materials and experiences, it's important to keep a couple of things in mind. First off, don't pressure. When you put intriguing materials in front of your child, get out of the way. This is child-led learning. Second, be sure to nurture your own passion for learning. Children learn what they live. If your child watches you joyfully knit a sweater, create a collage, or sing a song, she will be more inclined to dig in, as well!

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