Children learn when interest is high

by Mary Ann on August 31, 2011

kid exploring and learning with interest

When a child is interested they become absorbed in learning.

SPARKS, they are an amazing thing!!! They are the key to truly inspiring Closet content. Catching them is usually easy but responding to them can take some time to develop as a skill.

I go to the library once a month and I get four weeks worth of material for my Closet. This can be parceled out a bit everyday for the whole month or just added in a couple of days each week. On my last trip to the library I had gotten a bunch of pre-math ideas and books. My focus was on that. However, Jacks was on elephants.

Two weeks ago when the Closet went traveling Jack said, “Hi grandma you brought the Closet.” (It is actually a smallish plastic basket) I asked him if he knew what we were going to do today and he got a huge grin on his face and said, “Yes, elephants.” I showed them the contents and although we had a lot of fun it wasn’t elephants.

The next week when I arrived I asked Jack, “What do you think we are going to learn about today.”  With a huge grin and a face that was lit with the sure knowledge that he knew he yelled, “Elephants”. I knew right then that it should have been elephants. I had missed my opportunity to respond when the spark was fresh.

Jack understands how the Closet works. When he said that he wanted to learn about elephants he fully expected that he would find the materials available to learn about them. I could see his disappointment when it was something else. We had fun but sensed that he wasn’t fully enthusiastic because what he really wanted to know about was elephants.

Well this last week I was prepared with information about elephants. Guess what – I had let the window of opportunity pass by! We did have fun but I could see that the enthusiasm he had had the week before was not present. Imagine how joyous would have been our experience if I had had the materials about elephants last week. It would have made a difference.

So I will spill it and tell you why I didn’t have things going well when it came to elephants. Frankly, the first week I missed it. I heard him say elephants and I let it pass right through my head. I didn’t want to go to the library again, I wanted to use what I already had prepared and I was excited about the pre-math stuff and then I forgot about elephants until the next week when Jacks happy and anticipation filled face reminded me.

So the second week when he was sure I had elephants in the closet I wasn’t ready. I had been thinking about my needs and not Jacks, so I had completely missed the spark.

When I did show up with elephants in the Closet on the third week it was fun but Jack wasn’t as engaged as he sometimes is and we didn’t do even half of what I had prepared. The younger the child, the more important it is to hear and respond to a spark quickly. They move from one interest to another fast.

So here are a few tips to help you do better at responding than I did when it came to the elephants.

  • Have a consistent place to make notes to yourself. When Jack mentioned elephants I should have immediately written it down so I wouldn’t forget about it.
  • If you can’t make it to the library for the right books then use the internet. It will only take 10 minutes max to print off a page of info that you can read and prepare in your mind, as well as a few pictures. Then while you all look at the pictures you can ask questions and slip in some facts.
  • There are always a bunch of craft ideas and cute lunch and snack ideas on line for just about any subject.
  • There are free worksheets and color pages on line for any topic you can choose, including elephants. Add another 5 minutes and you can have those downloaded and printed. If you have trouble using the internet effectively and efficiently then why not take a look at the DVD “Filling your Closet on a Dime with No Time.” It will teach you step by step how to be a master at keeping inspiring content in your Closet without breaking the time bank. You will find it under the products tab.
  • Take another 10-15 minutes to gather your materials for crafts and plan snacks so that you can put them in your Closet over the next few days. I always use what I have. I rarely make a special trip to the store. I am averse to buying when I can make do. So if I need a straw and I don’t have one I call my husband and he stops at Wendy’s after work. If I need a feather and I don’t have one I make one from paper. If I need sliced turkey and I don’t have it I figure out how to make peanut butter or tuna work.
  • So in 30 min or so you can have wonderful Closet content that can work for a week and can help you respond to your children’s sparks immediately.
  • kids studying rocks and learning about them

    Rocks - A Spencer spark. Miles and Payton Spencer

  • If you have other plans put them on hold and respond to the spark. Your child will be excited and much more engaged and you may just start a fire. For an example of what I mean check out Sparks Lead to Joy and learning style in children
  • Most of all, remember that the Closet is about your children, their interest and needs and not about yours. The Closet is about creating anticipation and having a magical place where children love to learn!

    kid reading thinking picture

    When their interests are responded to, children LOVE learning

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