Child-Led Learning, Supporting Their Passions

My third grader is really into vintage cars and since we follow a child-led learning approach to homeschool, it’s only fitting that we do a week dedicated to this theme, complete with math concepts, writing and history. Here are some of the tools, activities and free printables I put together to provide scaffolding around this theme and a deeper dive into vintage automobiles.

Child-Led Learning: Supporting Interests

This weekend we visited the Transportation Museum in Denver and we’ve also been watching From Rust to Riches on Netflix. So much inspiration for both us to work this passion into homeschool curriculum!

Child led learning following their passions

He woke up this morning and started building vehicle models out of cardboard boxes. This was the perfect opportunity to introduce the activities I put together for him around this theme and follow his lead!

First, I let him build for over an hour. Then, I showed him what I put together. I don’t force the work on him, but I do say something like, “I love this vehicles you created! For homeschool this week, let’s keep working on this topic.” I show him the writing prompts I created and offer different options on how he can approach writing about them. We address one subject at a time, so he doesn’t feel overwhelmed.

Write About What You Love

Day one, he did a fantastic job writing and I love it when he spends extra time on the drawing. To me, that means he is really taking pride in his work. I don’t focus on handwriting, right now I just want him to enjoy writing and I feel like giving critical feedback on handwriting isn’t appropriate for him at this time. Thought that sentiment varies from kid to kid and parent to parent. I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong, but I try to go with my gut on these things. I believe that the way I approach it is also loosely in-line with the Brave Writers approach, which I really try to align with.

Homeschool interest led learning history of transportation museum

Keeping Math Interesting

Math is actually a really interesting topic, unless it is forced and then it just feels like boring busy work. I try to switch it up and stay away from workbooks, which definitely helps keeps my kids engaged. For this particular subject, I found this deck of vintage playing cards that I leveraged for some playing card math printables, teaching greater than, less than and equal to as well as a separate printable using the same cards to teach two digit multiplication. Tip – remove all of the aces, kings, queens and jacks before you use this for multiplication! Lastly, when I saw him making the model trucks, I repurposed this perimeter printable from our units of measurement block for the vehicles, so he can measure them and find the perimeter.

So, now he has three options. He can choose which math option he wants to do today and he also knows that this is his math work for the week, so he can spend more time today on it and less time tomorrow if he wants. Giving children options like this helps them feel in control of their education and empowers them to learn on their terms.

Here is a link to the free card games printables I put together.

Child-Led Learning: What About History and Science?

I don’t necessarily feel that I need to cover every subject, every week. I would rather do a deeper dive into one subject and really get a good handle on it. This week, we are focusing more on history and there were so many natural learning opportunities at the History of Transportation museum. We learned about how engines changed over the years, saw vehicles from WWII, stood inside an old Big Boy steam train and got an idea of how people dressed an lived during these different time period. We even got to pretend we were driving an old Model T.

Big boy at the model train museum following child’s passions

Child-Led Approach Develops Passions

Taking a child-led approach means that we might not touch on every interest out there. There are a lot of things my kids just aren’t that into, and they each have their own, individual passions. The key is to hone in on those passions so when they are learning, they are truly finding joy in the subject matter. This work we are doing on vintages cars and trucks is actually work, but it doesn’t feel like it. My son could spend all day building trucks out of cardboard, researching them to make them as realistic as possible. My hope is that when he gets old, he will have a very solid sense of self. He will have hobbies and passion the help define who he is as a person and that this sense of self will give him great confidence as he grows older.

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