Does your child have a passion or excessive enthusiasm for some particular subject? Often this can be quite surprising. My seven year-old grandson was mad about semi-precious stones. I have known children of similar age who were absolute encyclopaedias on subjects as varied as national flags, frogs and the Battle of Waterloo. Sport is of course a very popular area and, controversially, war and weapons are perennially fascinating to masculine youth! Animals are very much loved by children.
As one of the most common problems parents talk to me about is homework, I thought we might look at how you can tap into these areas of interest for almost any field of education. They are a very rich source of inspiration, I assure you!
To give some examples: a GCSE student, who had the utmost problem with speaking in public, gave a top-scoring talk on snowboarding (he was completely passionate about the sport and now earns his living as an instructor on the slopes!) – he then successfully used articles and statistics from snowboarding magazines for his factual essays. My writing-shy grandson had masses he wanted to write about his stone collection and his spelling problems miraculously vanished when tackling the weird and wonderful names like Rhodochrosite or Cat’s Eye Tourmaline! The boy who loved amphibians spent more than two hours drawing a detailed diagram of a frog’s digestive system!
The important point about following the child’s enthusiasm is that it is the one area where they are not just willing to learn – they are eager to learn and soak up information like the proverbial sponge. Therefore the task in hand becomes something fascinating rather than a dreadful chore.
To capitalise on this rich source, you can take them on trips, subscribe to magazines, buy books, watch films with them or just spend some time on Google. Meanwhile you begin to notice how this hobby feeds into the different subjects your child is tackling at school. Where does it happen? Where are they found? That connects to Geography in all its forms. When and how did it happen? This concerns History and Creative Writing. What are the various statistics? Here you can lead into Maths or Reporting. It can all be tremendous fun.
What is education for after all? Surely its purpose is to give your child the tools to follow his or her goals in life successfully. Each subject is there for his or her USE. It doesn’t always seem like that to the child and certainly parents and teachers can lose sight of that simple fact in the maze of targets, tests and grades. By allying education to enthusiasm we can all be reminded why we have education and why we go to school.
Since retiring from full-time teaching Art and English and her post as Assistant Head and Sixth Form Tutor, Cathy Bird has concentrated on her painting and now runs art courses and sessions at her own studios in Kent. She also tutors students at all levels in Literacy, Comprehension and Essay-writing. http://cathybirdtuition.co.uk/