When I taught second graders, I sometimes grouped them by their interests to increase enthusiasm for our reading lessons. It helped them learn and enjoy the experiences. They also got to know peers better who they normally didn’t spend as much time with.

As if it was just a week ago, I remember the year Shawn, John, George, and a few more boys were grouped together because they all wanted to know how planes worked. They had a great time and made an excellent presentation to the rest of the class about what they learned.

One boy felt terribly left out. No one else chose the topic he chose. He almost begged me to let him drop his choice and join the other group. I didn’t. Rather, I supported him and he began to enjoy his opportunity to work at his own pace and dig into what interested him. He, too, made an excellent presentation to the class. It was the interest that motivated him; he didn’t need his peers.

What children are interested in is an important part of their identity. There may be others with the same interests, like the boys who all wanted to learn about planes. This serves as a great connection point and enhances their belonging. Or, they may find out their interest helps to explain their uniqueness among their peers.

Helping children identify their interests is important:

  • Self-security can be enhanced as they gain confidence in another part of themselves.
  • As they find others with similar interests, their belonging is strengthened.
  • Their interests may relate to ways they’ll fulfill the purpose God has for them so knowing them early can help them focus.
  • Interests can increase motivation so they’ll work to develop competencies.
  • Knowing their interests can help them choose volunteer and job opportunities they’ll stick with.
  • Knowing their interests helps them think of things they can do in their spare time or when they’re bored.
  • Tapping into their interests on school assignments can increase motivation and learning.

What would you add to this list? Think about your kids and what happens when they identify something they like and want to know more about. Talk about it.