Sarah Janisse Brown, creator, publisher, and author of Dyslexia Games and Fun-Schooling journals, recommends that every child choose a “major” (special interest). Even your little ones should spend at least one full day a week exploring subjects they are passionate about! Don’t worry that they aren’t getting the “core” subjects in on these days. If your child is choosing a wide variety of books and other resources (movies, documentaries, videos, websites, audiobooks, games, apps, magazines, and more) they are most likely getting those subjects in anyway….even though they don’t realize it. As a matter of fact, it’s possible to totally homeschool your child using only major(s)/passion(s). All you need is a great core (or other) journal and a good selection of resources on the subject(s)!
For example, if a child loves horses, he/she can read a fictional book about horses; a book about the different breeds of horses, where to find each breed, and how it came to be in that area; another telling how to care for the horses, including how much food and how often they eat, the total cost of owning a horse, how they measure horses, what the different pieces of tack are called, which saddles are used for what, etc. She can watch a documentary about horses, videos of horses barrel racing or otherwise competing, and a horse movie (fictional or non). Provide resources so she can learn to draw horses, study horse anatomy, and how horses are used with disabled children. She could write a story about horses and play a horse game. You can take her to ride horses and maybe she can even volunteer at a horse stable. By doing this, your child is learning language arts (reading, vocabulary, writing, and spelling); science (breeds and anatomy, etc.); history and geography (where they live and how they got there); math (measuring, feeding, etc.) art; sports; PE; career training; and more! Then there are unlimited “rabbit trails” she could follow, such as researching a famous race horse, famous rodeo star, or a particular breed of horse.
Just remember that a major could be ANYTHING, so please don’t discourage your child from pursuing his/her interests by suggesting they choose a more “appropriate” one. Doing this will totally defeat the purpose. Even if it sounds “silly” to you, I encourage you to let him/her pursue whatever they enjoy…such as sharks, basketball, art, cooking, wrestling, fashion, magic tricks, airplanes, makeup, Barbies, WWII, karate, comic books, photography, technology, animation, sewing, pizza, cats, frisbees, ballet, a singer or actor, snakes, yo-yo tricks, a sports hero, Minecraft, etc.! Do help them find the necessary resources including ones about the history of their interest, as well as any equipment they might need. When children are passionate about something, they will willingly research and learn more. Whether they are immersed in their majors one day a week or daily, they will learn valuable research skills they can apply to other areas of their education. Allowing them to follow their passions also allows them to become experts in their chosen field(s), which could potentially lead to a career down the road.
I have experienced the positive results of choosing a major with my grandson (15). His passions include making videos and live streaming video games using a professional mic, lights, webcam, and a green screen. He did the research and learned what was necessary to do a good job, then compared prices to find the best deals (Math skills 😉), and we purchased the equipment. He is learning valuable technology skills that have surpassed mine and I worked in information technology for 20+ years. What he is learning could lead to a career one day. In fact, he has already earned his first paycheck from the streaming app he uses (Twitch). My grandson has severe ADHD and has trouble focusing on things like Math, History, or Spelling for longer than 5 minutes, but he CAN FOCUS ALL DAY on the research necessary to do this, because HE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT IT!
Young children are likely to change their “majors” often, even every few weeks or months, and that’s fine. By exploring many different interests, they are able to see what they enjoy and do well, as well as expose them to the many different careers that are available. It’s ok if you decide not to have your child choose a major. Every child is different and every family Fun-Schools differently. One of my favorite things about Fun-Schooling journals is their versatility. Do whatever works best for your family!
The Thinking Tree has Fun-Schooling journals that cover some interests such as horses, fashion, endangered species, Minecraft, cooking, the Bible, cats or other animals, music and art, nature and wildlife, etc. The following steps on helping your child master a major is from “How to Flip to Fun-Schooling with Thinking Tree Books!” by Sarah Janisse Brown:
Twelve Ways to Help Your Child Master their Major:
1. Help your child choose books on the topic they love.
2. Take your child to the bookstore or Library, and don’t limit them by only visiting the children’s section.
3. Build a fun-Schooling Basket with items that represent your child’s interest.
4. Learn about jobs that involve your child’s favorite topic.
5. Use these topics as a theme when choosing books for the Main Curriculum Journal.
6. Encourage the student to meet people who are experts in the field your child loves, go on a field trip to a relevant location.
7. Choose films and documentaries about the topic.
8. Allow your child to take lessons or watch tutorials about the skills involved in the topic.
9. Find ways to use the skills and knowledge your child is developing in practical ways at home.
10. Allow your child to volunteer in a related field.
11. Help your child to study the history related to the subject of interest.
12. Allow your child to study the life and biographies of people who are also passionate about the topic.
Here is a link to the entire post!
Examples of “themed journals” your child could use:
…And MANY MORE!!