by Andrea Panebianco, MS
Every person has a distinct set of interests that makes them unique, including children, which is a wonderful thing to recognize as mentor, parent, or teacher. What makes this concept so compelling is that children’s interests can be used to help them learn in a variety of ways; a concept which informs an interest-based learning approach. Using interests can help instill growth and can facilitate the introduction of new concepts (Touhill, N.D.). Similarly, children’s interests can be a useful tool to boost social-emotional skills and communication.
Utilizing children’s interests can help promote social-emotional skills such as confidence and positive-self-esteem. Specifically, by listening to a child’s interests as a parent or mentor, you can instill a level of warmth and understanding in your relationship with a child. This could then promote a child’s confidence to ask for help and work towards goals.
Communication skills are also positively impacted when engaging with a child’s interests. According to the Hanen Centre (2015), the Center on Everyday Child Language Learning (CECLL) has compiled data that demonstrates the benefits that engagement in a child’s interests has on communication. The major finding of these studies was that children are more motivated to interact and engage when they are pursuing an activity that aligns with their interests.
Lowry, L. (2015). What makes your child “tick”? Using children’s interests to build
communication skills. https://www.hanen.org/helpful-info/articles/what-makes-your-
Matthews, S. (2021). Why it is important to take into account the interests of the child.
Touhill, L. (N.D.). Interest-based learning. National Quality Standard Professional Learning