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You want your grandkids to succeed in school. You want them to be A-one learners. Here is one way to help that happen: find ways to support the things they love the most.

Right now my five-year-old grandson loves a show called Paw Patrol. Paw Patrol characters are doggie community servants who do good deeds. He also loves dinosaurs and volcanoes. I’m all about finding information, buying books and otherwise supporting these interests. If you aren’t sure what your grandkids love, make the effort to find out because that support will encourage all sorts of extended learning.

Think about volcanoes—what they are, what they do and how they affect the environment. Think of the learning you can offer as you answer your grandchild’s questions about them, find resource materials to inform your conversation and maybe spend some time drawing or creating a model of a volcano. You’ll be encouraging a budding scientist with an inquisitive mind as you enjoy the interactions.

The wonderful thing about passionate interests is that they change over time. Next week or month you may be tracking down information on insects or planets or birds. Your job it to facilitate all the learning possible while your grandchild absolutely loves that topic. You’ll benefit from sharing quality time with those you love and your grandchild will benefit too.

Benefits of extending learning about current passions may include:

  • Learning to focus attention on a topic.
  • Learning to engage and take risks, improving a body of knowledge or skills.
  • Learning to set goals such as memorizing all the characteristics of a certain animal or understanding the habitat of a certain bird.
  • Learning to ask good questions and follow up with research.
  • Learning how to think clearly and logically as they pursue their interest.
  • Learning there are experts in any field of study and knowing they can become an expert, too.
  • Learning the world is full of a vast amount of information and they can access it.
  • Seeing themselves as successful and intelligent learners.

Here are some ways you can encourage your grandchild in his or her chosen interests.

  1. Find all the supportive materials you can at your local library. Even if you meet with your grandchild online, you can share fiction and non-fiction books, photos, coloring books, maps, charts and graphs or videos.
  2. Find websites that offer factual information, games and videos related to the topic.
  3. Provide space and time in your home to pursue the topic if you are fortunate enough to have your grandchildren nearby. If not, create a space somewhere in your home to display grandkid-made finished products and creations related to current learning.
  4. Talk about the topic in person or in video calls. Ask open-ended questions to hear what your grandchild has learned. Brainstorm with him about stories to write about the topic or encourage her to draw pictures.
  5. If you can, commit to spending some money to purchase books or other items. Or pay the fee for tickets to the local museum, zoo, or presentation on the topic of choice. 
  6. Be a model for your grandchild by following up on your own current interests. Share your learning in a concise way with them. They will pick up on your enthusiasm for learning.

Capitalizing on your grandchild’s current interests is something you can begin to do when they are very young. Pretend play and drawing pictures is a great place to start. Then as the children grow and mature, your interactions with them can keep pace. You can extend learning and dig into research materials together.

It’s good to remember that your grandchild’s interests and passions are their own. It’d not productive to choose for them. But once the interest is identified, you can begin to support learning in countless ways.

Success in school and in life depends on being able to master various bodies of knowledge. Give your grandkids a head start in achievement by sparking their current passions and interests.