Teaching To Your Child's Passion When They Don't Seem to Have Any

I have always tried to let my kids take the lead in their learning.  Whenever I can I support their passions and use them to bring excitement into our days.

But what happens when their passions aren't always evident?

It's been easy helping my older two boys study their passions and using them to broaden their learning.

Over the years Alec has had many passions and many different ideas about what he wants to be and do when he's older.  For quite a few years he read everything he could get his hands on that had anything to do with animals.  He wanted to be a zookeeeper or a marine biologist.  He just KNEW he was going to work with animals.

Then he went through a small phase where he would not leave the house without a camera in his hands and declared he was going to be a photographer.  He posed us, tried to take pictures of animals and nature, and we thought he might end pairing his love of animals with his love of taking pictures.

Alec met a woman while waiting for his brother and I to get off a few rides at Disney and when he found out that she was a video game tester he decided THAT was his calling.  He loved video games, Pokemon (this woman happened to test Pokemon games!), and he loved the idea of getting paid to play.

Lately Alec has been obsessed with baking cupcakes.  We have had to limit him to making one type of cupcake or dessert a week and it's been hard holding him back that much. He has taken over baking for all family functions, holidays, or special occasions.  We bought him books about the science of baking and let him experiment to his hearts content.

Obviously Alec has had lots of different passions and they have all led nicely to a bunch of different learning opportunities.
  • We read lots of books on his current topic of interest.  
  • Went on field trips to zoos, aquariums, and to the beach 
  • Took oceanography & zoology classes
  • Studied computer coding
  • Took a few computer coding classes
  • Learned about photo composition, lighting and color
  • Experimented with new recipes; cupcake, filling, and frosting 
Ian, my oldest, has always, always, always been obsessed with trucks, tools, and heavy equipment.  He watches them, watches movies about them, and while he occasionally branches out into learning about gold mining, quarries, and lumberjacks, most everything he does circles back to heavy equipment of some sort.

In the past year or so he has broadened his interests to include wood working and learning about all the various tools in the wood shop and the machine shop.

He designed and built his own fort this winter; several of them actually. 
It's been easy to help Ian fuel his passions

  • by watching movies and TV shows about real life work.  
  • We've read every book we can find at our library about heavy equipment, mining, and lumber.  
  • He's also fortunate enough to have access to loaders, mini excavators, and other equipment that he is learning to drive and use.  
  • We subscribed to EEME kits and purchased robotics kits, tools, and all sorts of building blocks and toy trucks
  • He works with his father, grandfather, and various family members when they need help around the yard with building or digging.  

He works with his hands at every opportunity taking apart broken appliances, building with tools, running heavy equipment, and putting together robotics and electrical kits.

Evan, on the other hand, has always been a bit harder to teach; mainly because he doesn't seem to be passionate about anything, or at least not anything that would lead towards any type of career, school interest, or traditional school subject.

He does enjoy playing video games but THE GAME he is passionate about can change from week to week or even day to day.  He has no interest in coding or making games of his own.  He enjoys watching movies and TV shows like Star Wars, Kung Fu Panda, The Avengers, How to Train Your Dragon, and Ninjago.  He likes toys and characters and has a great imagination but does not enjoy reading or drawing or crafting.  He loves playing with water balloons, Nerf guns, swords, and weapons too.

I struggled for awhile trying to decide how to get him excited about learning.

I finally realized that even though he doesn't have a single passion I can still use those things that he enjoys to guide our homeschooling day.

Since his interests don't seem to point to anything that might lead to a future job I focus more on everyday skills like reading, math/logic, writing

We've taught to his interests in a few ways:
  • Listened to the whole How To Train Your Dragon books on CD and use audiobooks whenever possible for him to get added exposure to literature. 
  • Read books about Ninjago, Kung Fu Panda, superheroes, Minecraft, Terraria, and Star Wars
  • Used the Star Wars math and reading workbooks for 1st & 2nd grade
  • Purchased Minecraft activity books and reading books (one of the video games he enjoys)
  • Used Minecraft writing prompts to write his own story
  • Use Star Wars cursive paper pack and planned a whole Star Wars mini unit
  • Signed him up for computer coding camp; just to make sure he wasn't closing himself off to something he might enjoy.
  • Used water balloons and Nerf guns to practice sight words and math facts. 
  • Signed him up for karate classes so he could learn kung fu. 
I listen to my boys and always encourage them to make suggestions about what they'd like to learn and how they'd like to learn about it.

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  1. love this post! Some of our children have had a definite bent, but others have not shown a passion for any one particular area. In this day and age it seems like we must help our children figure out early on what life-direction (i.e. career, occupation) they will pursue. You've shown us how it's perfectly alright to encourage and nurture them in whatever happens to be their interest at the moment. It's ok for them to jump from one things to another!

  2. My son is just like Evan! He gets passionate about "a thing" like Minecraft, but does not want to do any type of career with it. He loves animals, but doesn't want to be a vet, love rocks and mining, but does not want a career in that either. I am at a loss! LOL. But have done the same thing that you are doing. I am tailoring our school to the things that he does like right now and trying to keep my eyes open! :)

    Thanks for linking up @LiveLifeWell!



    1. I think it's the only way. Honestly I know he's just too young to think that far into the future and showing him how to learn about what he's interested in will help him apply that later in life.


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