Do you want to remodel your kids’ interests more towards the world and what is going on around them, but they’re not showing any? 

And you’re feeling really stuck because you don’t know how to drum up that interest? 

If you said, yes, this is a question you are in the right place. 

How do I break my child’s screen addiction…

And spark my kids’ interests in learning

This is a question I had from a member of my community.

“Jo, how do I get my kids interested in anything outside Minecraft and soccer? How do I teach my kids about anything outside their current interests, they’re only interested in what they’re interested in, and I can’t get them excited about anything else!“

This is something that I’m very passionate about. And I really believe that if we have more kids interested in the world, and other people and other cultures, we’d have a better understanding of each other and a much nicer world to live in. 

And I totally get how difficult it can be. 

Often kids get obsessive about a certain thing, whether it be Peppa Pig, Loom Bands or unicorns. I was certainly labelled “horse mad” when I was a kid!

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How to get children enthusiastic about new topics?

To hit our objective of shifting kids’ interests in things outside of their current bubble,  we’ll bring this back to Montessori. 

Maria Montessori said that we should “follow the child”. That means that whatever the child’s interest is, we take that interest and we follow them and we give them more to get them to learn in a deeper and more meaningful way. 

For example,  you’ve got a 10-year-old boy who’s really into football, (soccer). And he’s not interested in learning about geography, cooking or anything else. Whenever presented with a lesson about the Amazon rainforest, Europe, history etc, he is really not interested.

He’s just soccer, football, soccer, football mad, you know?

Then, how can we get him interested?

Use football as the springboard…

Who’s his favourite football player? 

Maybe it’s Ronaldo. He thinks Ronaldo is the bee’s knees. So ask him “Where’s Ronaldo from? 

Portugal! 

Do you know where Portugal is?

No. 

Get a map out… Let’s find out where Portugal is? 

Do you know where Ronaldo was born? 

Let’s find it on the map. 

What kind of house did he grow up in?

What do you think Ronaldo ate when he was a kid? 

No idea? 

Let’s find some typical Portuguese recipes… 

Shall we try making something? 

Let’s pick a day next week and have a “Eat like Ronaldo day” you can help me in the kitchen…

And there are films, documentaries, books all of which can be utilized. More ideas on raising curious kids here.

You can dig quite deep with this kind of thing. There will, no doubt, be interviews with Ronaldo where he talks about his childhood, what kind of place he grew up in etc. You can use this as fuel to spark the kids’ interests. Highlight things that are similar to your circumstances, that your child can relate to and those that are different.

There are so many resources available online that you can research a place where a celebrity grew up, you can often find their childhood home, school, favourite ice-cream shop! If travel and geography are specific interests there are extra tips over here.

Get your kids developing skills not just memorizing facts

As your child is looking up this information, they are developing research skills, reading (and writing) skills, they learn about the economics of a place, it’s food and it’s culture. 

And all these little bite-sized nuggets of information are tiny springboards into deeper conversations. 

This is, by far the easiest way to get the kids’ interests to modify, using a topic they are already interested in as a lead-in.And you can use this for anything really. 

For example…

Interested in ghost stories? Let’s learn about Hamlet, the most famous ghost story of all time.

Got a pony fanatic child? Start asking questions…
“Arabs, why why are Arab horses bred in the way that they are? 

What about Quarter Horses, where did their name come from? Why is a quarter horse is built the way they are built? There is a reason behind that… 

Starting with a question like that will take you to the next stage. 

You might need to set the questions a little more specifically, “Where in the world will your find the oldest breed of horses?” 

That will lead you over to Mongolia, and from there you can explore further.

This works because you haven’t got to convince them to study what you’re going to study, you’ve already got them there. 

And that will take them into more things. It might be that when they get to Mongolia that they want to learn more about Mongolians hunting with birds, or it might be that they want to learn more about living in a yurt. 

Rather than it being a sit-down formal lesson, it’s more that you take that little thread of your kids interests and you pull them along gently to learn more. And that will pique their curiosity, let that take them wherever it goes. 

Sometimes it will result in more Ronaldo facts and other times it will take them onto other things, just see it all as learning.

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Do you find teaching your kids hard?

I’m pretty sure there are going to be some parents thinking that all this sounds too much like hard work and that giving a textbook and some exercises to do is easier.

And I know many parents who end up in screaming matches and endless battles when it comes to bookwork.

So, I would like to argue the toss here!

There are kids who love doing textbook work but there are many that don’t and you know your kids the best. If they are all gung-ho about the textbook, then let them at it.

But if textbook work is a battle, chuck it out!

Don’t ‘make’ your kids study

Your child isn’t going to fall in love what is forced upon them, they will learn just enough to pass whatever tests are thrown at them and promptly forget it all when the test is over.

I’m really not interested in kids passing tests, I want to see kids falling in love with learning because when that happens, you don’t have to force them to study! We want them to pick at a thread that then takes them off on a journey they had no idea existed.

And as a parent, we don’t have to “teach” them, rather we are here to guide them in the right direction. They are after all just kids and their worldly experience is limited, we, as adults can help them expand their limited views and do it without it being a battle.

Looking for fun activities for children during lockdown

I am a big travel and culture nerd, I love nothing more than getting lost in a new city, sampling the local food and learning about the weird and wonderful traditions of the place. But travelling is expensive and not always possible (especially in the current climate) but that doesn’t mean I can’t get my son interested and engaged in such adventures.

In fact that is how 193mysteries was born! I created escape room/treasure hunts around different cities because we were in lockdown and couldn’t go on holiday when I shared the idea with friends, they all wanted a piece of the action!

It’s ideal for kids who codebreaking and spies (which my son loves!) and all that as well as the travel and culture nerds out there! You can try a free game here.

And if need a bit more guidance when it comes to guiding and teaching your kids at home, grab this handy guide