Written by Amida of Journey into Unschooling
At one time or another, children will go through phases where they are consumed by a subject or hobby. Through the years, we’ve been taken over by Calvin and Hobbes, Harry Potter, and Horrible History, among a host of other infatuations.
Sometimes, these may not be desirable to us. We may not always understand or see the possible educational benefits of leafing through piles of Captain Underpants. It may even cross our minds to limit their exposure to these passing crazes and replace them with something more beneficial or academic.
I think though, that a little obsession does a body good.
It is at these moments of intense study that one really learns. When my eight-year-old was into Pokemon, he pored over a 600-plus guide day and night and studied the ins and outs of the trading card game, learned every character’s weaknesses and strengths, and became the household’s best player.
Sure, we may think Pokemon is nothing, but to that eight-year-old, it was a source of pride and accomplishment — something he was very good at.
Calvin and Hobbes encourages imagination (cardboard boxes become transmogrifiers, duplicators, and time machines), Harry Potter can lead to excelled readers (Order of the Phoenix contains a staggering 870 pages in the US version!), and Horrible History will give an excellent overview of historical people, events, and even little known trivia.
It may be harder to find the charm in those obsessions you’ve never taken to yourself. But even Dungeons and Dragons can fine tune analytical skills (is it worth going into dungeon A and risk annihilation just for the sake of acquiring a treasure) and get your child pondering the mathematical probability of rolling a twenty and defeating the monsters.
Deadliest Warriors may encourage an in depth study of different weapons and their strategical advantages, as well as a further study into the differences between ancient warriors. Beanie Babies can boost money management skills as your child compares re-sale values of their collectibles and possible profits.
Remember that time in your own childhood when Sanrio stationery and mechanical pencil fobs were the coolest things ever and all your parents ever got you were binder paper and yellow #2 pencils? Don’t you wish someone had just understood?
Now is your chance. Encourage the obsession, as long as there is no danger in it. What your child gains from it may surprise the both of you.
What healthy obsessions interest your children?