Sharing Your Passion with your Kids
I still remember the acrid smell of the soldering iron and the oversized handle in my small, 6-year-old hands. The Montana summer heat was kept at bay by the dim lights and garage door.
My grandpa was teaching me to make my first circuit, a simple flashlight. Every summer, I would make the journey from my home in Seattle to my grandpa’s garage. He never talked much, but I loved sitting next to him in companionable silence, watching him work and attempting my own crude inventions. His passion was infectious.
I ended up going to school to be a computer engineer, with a dream of building Iron Man. While I accomplished the first goal, I never did manage to build an arc reactor-power suit of armor (or at least, if I did, I couldn’t tell you about it!). Even so, my passion for electronics continues to play a key role in my current career, and I hope to pass along some of that same passion to my own kids.
Benjamin Franklin summed up the time I spent with my grandpa---and what I hope my kids experience---when he said “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Here are 7 wonderful benefits of embracing your own passions in your homeschool (and not limiting yourself to just what your curriculum tells you to teach or what your kids are interested in). And yes, I mean that hobby you have of cross-stitching tiny farm animals… or whatever it is you do :).
7 Benefits of Passion-Driven Homeschooling
Model Love of Learning
From speech formation to tottering around with their tiny feet in your fanciest heels, kids learn best by copying you. You would be modeling for them one of the sweetest goals of education: a genuine, enduring love of learning.
Teach with Joy
Nothing saps my energy for teaching quite like staring out into the chilly South Dakotan winter, knowing I need to go to the store to buy supplies for a random experiment that I don’t even like. Imagine instead waking up excited about the day’s homeschool lesson because you get to do what you love!
Share your Expertise
I can’t think of a single person in my life who isn’t an expert at something. It could be something school-y sounding, like “engineering” or “chemistry.” More often, however, they have expertise in odd things like designing board games, crocheting little animals, running marathons, or even planning meals. How great would it be if you could have your child sit under the teaching of one of these experts as they share their competency and their passion? The wonderful news is that YOU are one of these experts!
Learn New Things Together
Okay, so you aren’t an expert at everything. Maybe your passion is leading you to learn something new right now (painting with oils is on my mind at the moment!). Invite your kids to join you in this learning adventure! They’ll see you dedicate yourself to learning something on your own initiative, including doing research, trying new things, and (often) failing spectacularly. Most importantly, they’ll watch you joyfully get up and try again, all with a smile on your face.
Use Materials You Already Have
Let’s face it: homeschooling can be expensive. Providing all those unique learning opportunities we love to give our kids often requires shelling out big piles of cash. But if you start teaching your kids the things you are passionate about, there’s a very good chance you’ll already have all the materials you need for your lessons. I love watercolor painting, and guess what: I already have a bunch of different paints, brushes, and paper types that my kids can experiment with. And even if I do need to buy something, I’m probably buying something that I can enjoy outside of school, giving me a lot more bang for my buck.
Provide Unique Opportunities
If you engage in a hobby, you're likely part of a group of people who are passionate about the same thing, whether that’s a weekly meetup of quilting ladies or a Facebook group about rock collecting. Use that! You’ll be exposing your child to the passion and expertise of an entire community and, more generally, showing them the power of networking. For example, I had my kids write letters to my alma mater’s robotics club asking them about the field of robotics! I never would have known the answers to their questions, but by using my network, I was able to give my kids the unique opportunity to hear directly from an expert… for free!
Build a Framework for Pursuing Their Own Interests
At the end of the day, of course, the goal isn’t to get your child to fall in love with collecting porcelain frogs or painting war gaming miniatures like you. The goal is to provide your child with hands-on experience for how to pursue a passion. Researching, restoring, collecting, collaborating over, forging, valuing, and displaying your samurai sword collection teaches your child how to research, find value in, be excited about, network, and present their own passion projects.
I’ve left out perhaps the most important benefit of all. What I got most out of those Montana summers wasn’t a growing passion for engineering or even the privilege of witnessing brilliance in action. It was time with my grandpa. Those are some of the most dear memories I carry with me to this day. Time with your children –- being a part of their lives, and allowing them to be a part of yours — is one of the greatest gifts that homeschooling affords us.
So what are your passions? I encourage you to invite your kids into those passions and provide a loving space for them to pursue their own. And if you think that there isn’t time in your day, I would encourage you to make it, even at the expense of writing essays or mastering multiplication tables. As Plutarch said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”