A few weeks ago, my son had to complete the 3rd grade Habitat Project. He was assigned the desert and did a great job working within a small group to present the life cycle and plant growth in the desert. He was interested in the desert plants and I suggested creating a terrarium. We took advantage of a quiet spring break morning to make it happen.
The experience inspired my top five ways parents inspire their passionate learners:
- Build on their interests or current projects – Ask questions and find out what’s going on in school, on the video game, or in that book they can’t put down. My oldest son asked to play the violin after learning about Mozart in preschool. I still remember him telling me, “His music is really powerful stuff!” Seven years later, he is still playing and so are my other children.
- Find an expert – The world if filled with people passionate people who are willing to share their interests. We found that the local EAA club gives mini classes on aviation on Saturday mornings. After studying gliders at school, the boys loved taking a ride in a small aircraft. Even better, I found two volunteers to visit my classroom!
- Indulge their curiosity – My 4th grade daughter wanted to know about Shakespeare when her teacher made a joke about his poetry in class. I could not believe she sat through Romeo and Juliet on Netfix, but decided it was interest enough to plan a trip to Spring Green, WI to see a show at the
- Learn together – When my school developed a 1:1 iPad program, my own kids were the best teachers available to show me the potential. As I write now, there is a motion picture being produced in the backyard with my iPad and the neighbor kids. It’s amazing to see what they can do and even more exciting to find out what new things they are going to teach me.
- Have fun – My 3rd grader has struggled to become a fluent reader. Some of the best tools we found are things like shaving cream and marshmallows. That kinesthetic activity helps build and strengthen what he is learning. Yes, it’s a little messy, but it’s worth it to see him focus and enjoy things like spelling words and multiplication facts.
I really like the following infographic from The Michigan Department Of Education because it shows how important parents are to the educational process. If you want to read more check out, “What Research Says About Parent Involvement in Children’s Education In Relation To Academic Achievement.”