What are you doing this summer? Learn with a hobby!

Are we done with those tests already? Is summer here yet? Like your kids, you’re probably thinking of all the possible things you could do during the summer, keeping an eye out for those swimming schedules and camps of interest. It’s all good. They keep the kids busy and happy for sure. What do you do if you’re in between activities or can’t afford those camps? Hobbies are a great way to pass the time!

Hobbies have many benefits. I like how they support the project-based learning approach and can be totally self-directed learning. Project-based learning is exactly that, learning through a project with guidance. BIE.org has a good list explaining what pbl is here. Self-directed learning has very little guidance from teachers (or parents) within a goal or project idea. selfdirectedlearning.org has the definition here. So with hobbies, we are helping out our kids in so many ways.

There’s quite a bit that falls in the hobby category. Dictionary.com defines it simply as “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation”. So whether you’re a philatelist, spelunker, or just like to do word puzzles, it all fits. I’m sure your kids already have a few hobbies! Even though we all learn better by doing, that doesn’t mean we don’t need a little help getting started or getting through. In sports, you have coaches. In spelunking, you’d have guides. In philately, you’d have references. Need I point out what a parent is in kids’ life? So how do you use project-based learning or self-directed learning in hobbies?

It can take a bit of reading or research to learn the details, but I’m going to guess most of you have already had to do projects at work. Its the same concept. There’s a meeting about a goal, ideas are thrown out for feedback, a decision is made on how to meet the goal and viola! Well, roughly. You get the idea. Kids are just going to need a little more help in some areas. Here’s a few things to remember:

  • Give them time to soak in new information or decide what to do.
  • Ask questions to help them think of answers rather than give them the answers straight up.
  • Definitely step in with information when you see a need, when they seem stumped.
  • Provide opportunities to see and do things related to the hobby.
  • Take advantage of those teachable moments!

Being that summer is approaching, why not go dig for diamonds for vacation? Yes! Go rockhounding for diamonds or other gems! Find out if there’s a rock and gem show in your town to scope out some precious and pretty neat rocks. We’ve done that and taken our boys on train rides wtih the Austin Steam Train Association. They made it fun with a western gunfight show at the destination, with some audience participation, too! Many places have steam trains preserved and working so look around your area to see if there’s one near you! Disc golf can be a new outdoor hobby that costs very little and disc golf courses can be found in many parks. Word puzzles are great for trips, too! Find a few under games & activity in the menu. As you can see, the amount of time and money can vary which is really good for us parents on a budget.

For teachers, approaching a hobby from the academic perspective isn’t much different as learning to classify rocks. For instance, philately was given its name around the mid 1800s. Why were stamps created? What system existed before then? Why are the first stamps designed NOT the rarest? You’d think that the oldest stamp, the first ones ever designed, would be the rarest, but they’re not! I’ll let you try to find the answer to that one. That’ll be an up-coming blog post. I, seriously, did not know there was another name for stamp collector until just a few months ago so any kid who knows it now is one step ahead of me! But as you can see, teachers can play a role in introducing hobby ideas to kids as well. Check out stamps.org for more information, activities, clubs, and more for kids. An interesting story about how a kindergarten teacher inspired one boy’s love for birds and falconry is here.

The more we allow our kids to explore and learn with things that naturally fascinate them, the more they will enjoy the learning process. Education is a must. I dare say hobbies are a must as well. They provide a balance. Hobbies serve to educate in many ways. Kids learn about the hobbies, but they also learn about themselves. Whether kids try to figure out how to improve their disc golf score or how to find the rarest stamp, the desire for answers can spur the type of determination to keep going when faced with other obstacles. Resourcefulness. Self improvement. Lots of other attributes to learn from hounding a hobby! And almost any hobby can be done at anytime of the year! So when the summer is over and its back to school, your kids don’t have to stop. The learning can continue even outside the classroom!