How To Teach Using A Hobby

We can start having hobbies at a very young age. Both my boys have liked trucks as toddlers. My 6 year old liked excavators and cement trucks. He watched Bob the Builder, Real Wheels, or Mighty Machines everyday until he discovered video games. My 3 year old currently likes garbage trucks.

My mom had recently asked why Joey likes garbage trucks so much. That was a good question. Personally, I don’t like big, loud machines. I never expressed my opinion about garbage trucks to Joey though. My husband and I involve Joey in the trash chore. Joey helps take out light loads of recycling items and helps roll out the trash cans. He can look at a container to find the recycling symbol and put it in the proper receptacle. When the garbage truck comes by we rush outside to watch and say, “Hi!” At least one driver always honks back and they all wave to us. And then Joey helps roll the trash cans back.

When my mom asked the question, I had to try seeing garbage trucks through Joey’s eyes. I told my mom Joey probably likes the mechanical aspects of it. Those parts that grab the trash cans or dumpsters and lift them upside down are robotic. He copies the lifting and dumping action with his trucks, in the shower, even outside, grabbing leaves with his claw-hands and dumping them over his head on his back. Whether Joey pursues a career in robotics or not, he’s learning a lot of different things. I’ve mentioned a few already.

—-A few garbage trucks, 2 with modifications.—-

He’s got a collection of garbage trucks, of course. He knows the different types and he can tell you all about them. We’ve seen YouTube videos of real garbage trucks and toy garbage trucks. We’ve counted more than 15 garbage trucks when we were on the road to the next big town. We’ve differentiated between blue and turquoise, gray and silver. We are starting to notice even more differences in the way they are built for the same job, like the side loaders whether the arm moves up a belt or is one, big folding arm. No, I don’t know the proper name for those parts but we talk about how they move.

So I’ve covered quite a bit of fields for a 3 year old from colors to math to social skills just using garbage trucks. We’ve increased his vocabulary using more descriptive words for colors and types. Studying the way it picks up trash cans gets him to look at details. Recognizing symbols like the recycling symbol is the beginning of reading. This is just an example how you can use something that interests your kid.

As my kids get older, I’ll be using the same principles with whatever interests them. I know they still have to have formal lessons in history and algebra eventually. But their early learning lessons have been such fun activities that I’m sure they’ll approach new subjects with the same enthusiasm. Hobbies are made for enjoyment so there’s never a test of knowledge or skill. The focus of hobbies is just on passing the time in an enjoyable way. Pursuing the hobby or interest over a length of time will give your kid the exposure of the information so that they’ll remember it and be able to build upon that knowledge, making connections.

Results can vary depending on a lot of factors, but I strongly recommend starting at the kid’s level of interest and ability. Whatever you see that they are interested in, use that to open a channel with them, a channel where you can drop in a few teachable moments here and there. As you do, you will not only be able to teach them something academic but you will be developing a relationship supporting their holistic development.