Finding ways to tap into Child Passions is what mentors do. It is our job to capture this natural interest and channel it into learning opportunities. When we help make meaning out of a child’s passion, the learning is relevant, engaging and on-going.
We dive into passions every day at Forest School – it is inherent to our emergent-based, student-led model. Whether it’s birds, tracks, shelters, adventures, hiding, seeking, wandering, music, imagining, creating, being animals… the list goes on and on and on. Whatever the passion may be, we want to jump on what captivates them and meet them where they are at.
It can be tricky sometimes.
Take for example, “Nerf Mania” – an idea born from our students and an idea we originally vetoed for the last year or so. There are plenty of reasons to be hesitant about an activity like this (and with good reason), but after stepping back, we had a shift in our thinking and perspective.
After reminding ourselves that we are always trying to engage our student’s passions (it just so happened that for this group, and at this time, it was Nerf) we went for it. And with a little forethought and planning (and ongoing reflection) we were able to draw on learning and skills, which helped give a little more meaning to the type of recapitulative play that these students desired.
It wasn’t all out warfare – far from it. With the students we established ground rules to keep everyone safe, and they drew maps to help come up with strategies. We were able to incorporate some core routines (ie “Sit Spot”) and help develop fine motor skill and coordination through target games. We saw teamwork, cooperation and communication skills used in Capture the Flag. We even developed our quiet minds and observation skills when jumping into the role of the camouflaged, silent hunter.
We took it further and drew out learning about sustainable hunting practices and wondered and reflected on the ecological impact of the plastic and rubber Nerf darts (and thus as a group chose to limit our dart number so we’d be sure to collect them). We explored eco-friendly options, which are seemingly unavailable on the market. Don’t be surprised if your child asks you for a potato to make a dart or tries to invent a biodegradable dart – there’s certainly a niche for it!
As part of our reflective practice, we realised that we moved from a hard “NO” to meeting students where they were at, challenging us to draw learning out of this childhood passion.
This is a bit of an extreme example! But we deal with uncovering and engaging with Child Passions every day. Children love games – they love hiding and seeking and sneaking up on others. They love “hunts” and errands and adventures. They love to make believe and create fantasy worlds. Their passions are endless, and by getting excited alongside them and being a role model in their journey, we help them come alive and create lifelong connections with nature.
We’d love to hear you thoughts! Please comment below.