Friday, April 26, 2013

Interest-Directed Learning – What Is It?

You hear so much about interest-directed learning these days, don’t you? At our house, we used unit studies based on the interests of our children. I started out on my challenge of following their interests to discover their gifts and talents. Since I was fairly new to homeschooling and still learning how each child is so unique, it took a bit of creative thinking to figure out just exactly what their interests were and how I could capture the ideas and help them grow and develop their special gifts and talents.

I learned to be a better observer of their favorite things to do, their curiosity statements, their tendencies to favor different topics in the library, and so on. Try it out. Make a simple chart of ideas based on things you see in the weeks ahead. Here are a few examples:

Area of interest:  Possible life work

Serving others:  Pastor, missionary, service organizations, church service

Protecting others:  Police work, military service

Building things:  Carpenter, builder, architect

Repairing things:  Automotive repair, computer repair, appliance repair

Counting things:  Statistician, banker, accountant

Entertaining others:  Athlete, actor/actress, singer, musician, race car driver

Teaching others:  Homeschooling parent, teacher, church service, college professor, archaeologist

Creating things from ideas:  Engineer, computer scientist, sculptor, artist, author, chef

Growing things:  Farmer, park ranger, forester, nurseryman, botanist

Helping others:  Nurse, doctor, lawyer, orthodontist, coach

Following clues, putting puzzles together:  Detective, food scientist, astrophysicist

History fanatic:  Ambassador, politician, leader, professor

Working with their hands:  Electrician, finish carpenter, orthopedic surgeon

Working with animals:  Zookeeper, veterinarian, zoologist

Working with a camera:  Photographer, biologist, scientist, satellite designer

These are just a few ideas and connections that can be made with some of the interests that
children display. Make a file on your phone or keep a small notebook handy so that you can record their interests that just happen to pop up—a mention of wanting to know how a lawn mower works to wishing she knew how to sew. By keeping track of these, you’ve got some concrete things to pursue, and you know what to watch for at the next library or garage sale. Enjoy the off-road explorations. They are learning ALL the time!

Amanda B.

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