How to embark on interest-led learning

Interest-led learning simply means learning which interests the child. It will motivate him/her towards learning more in the area of interest. Every child is talented! They just need a channel to express themselves. The secret of success? It has to come from within. No external rewards can do the job.

Inspirational stories

For example, a child who is curious about trains will want to read up about all the different types of trains, its history and development over the different periods in time. I know of a family whose child was so fascinated by trains, that they took a trip to Europe so that he could experience riding in the Bavarian Bullet: InterCity-Express (ICE) from Munich to Nuremberg, Germany. This high-speed wonder zooms between two historic Bavarian cities at speeds up to 199 miles an hour.

Another family, whose child is a savant in architectural art, had travelled all over the world just so that their child could experience the world renowned landscapes of architectural buildings and to draw them freehand. Some of the places that he had visited were London, Paris, and Russia and they had spurred a great deal of artistic works! Here is a link to his FB page.

Then there’s the story of a young girl who discovered the art of cake design and had begged her mom to enrol her in a professional cake-designing institute in KL. Being the youngest student, did not deter her from advancing far ahead of the rest of the adults in her class. In fact, it had spurred her to work even harder and subsequently winning several cake designing competitions locally as well as abroad. Today, she runs her own cake design studio and conducts workshops and classes to enthusiastic students.

And then there is an example of two young students who took my story-writing assignment to the next level – they decided publish the stories as a book-set, complete with their own illustrations. They spent hours working on their project, met on Zoom to discuss it together, and even created a website for their books! All on their own initiative. The secret of their success? It was all interest-driven. They valued the satisfaction of completing the project and seeing it to fruition.

interest-led learning

Lastly, the story of my son. From young, he was a very active boy who loved movies because he loved stories and he loved music. One day, when he was watching an anime story about a boy who played the piano, he suddenly declared that he wanted to learn to play classical piano (he had been dabbling with music from movie theme songs and had played entirely by ear). Not only did he want to learn to play classical music, he wanted to start with Chopin’s Ballade no.1 in G minor – just like how the character in the movie had played it.

I must say it was not a typical beginner’s choice, but persist he did, and after working at it for about 11 months, he had learnt to read notes and could play the entire piece from memory. Not long after that, he participated in a piano competition with that piece and was awarded a silver award.

Interest-led learning: how to support your child?

  • Be curious about what your child is curious about. If your child is asking a lot of questions about birds and their habitat, find them out together and consider joining a birdwatching group and join their activities. There are various activities organised throw out the year for different kinds of interest group. Just pick one!
  • Be supportive about your child’s interest/interests and encourage them to pursue them wholeheartedly. My younger daughter had wanted to learn dancing (but not ballet) and after she saw a dance competition on tv one day, she was set on learning street dancing. She joined many classes and eventually participated in a national dance competition and her crew emerged champions!
  • Enjoy the process together. Although it could involve spending a great deal of time, effort and money pursuing their interests, they are certainly well spent due to the fact that it gives so much self-satisfaction, rarely to be found in highly structured, theoretical, academic learning. It also bonds parent-child relationships to the highest levels, leading to the possibilities of them making a career out of their interests, but even if that doesn’t happen, enjoying them as a hobby is still a lifelong endeavour!

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