Are you aware of your children’s interests? They might enjoy baking or baseball. They might be intrigued by astronomy, hip-hop, or jumbo jets. If you don’t know your children’s interests, now is a good time to learn. It may help them become better students. Capitalizing on your children’s interests can get them excited about reading, writing, and art. Below are just a few ways you can use your children’s interest to encourage academic skills.

First, look at his or her folders or bedroom walls. Their favorite things usually adorn them. Study what your child watches on television or listens to on the radio. Look at his screensaver or peruse his bookmarked pages on your Web browser. After you identify your child’s interests, write them down and use them with the activities below.

Read up on it

Provide your children with books on their favorite topics. Check out subject-specific trade books and novels from the library. Have your child read the books and do a book report on each. Your child can also list interesting facts they learn from the books or write a book review for the best book they read. Even if your child dislikes reading, they will read just to learn more about their favorite topic.

If there aren’t many books available on your child’s favorite subject, take the opportunity to have your child write his or her own book. They can write about what they love and read it to younger relatives.

Create a Web page

Today’s children are technologically savvy. Many teenagers have e-mail accounts, Myspace pages, and the know-how to download music. Therefore, use the Internet as an educational tool. Have your child create a Web page on his or her favorite subject. For example, if your child loves basketball, have him or her create a Web page listing the names of favorite teams. They can then provide a link to each team’s homepage. Creating a Web page allows your child to practice writing skills and evaluate the authenticity of Internet sources.

Make it meaningful

Give children the opportunity to put what they love into use. Show your children how important their hobbies are to the world. For example, if your child is interested in butterflies, have him or her research the type of environment in which butterflies most thrive. Then have your child recreate the environment in the backyard to attract them. If your child loves alphabetizing, give him or her opportunities to use the skill at home. For example, your child can alphabetize your CD and DVD collections. Allowing children to apply what they learn to their everyday life makes learning that much more valuable.

Make it poetry or song

Expand your child’s creativity by having them create a rap or poem on their topic of interest. Provide your child with examples of different types of poems, such as haiku and cinquain. Then have your child write a poem about his or her favorite subject in one of these forms. Your child can also sample a beat from a jazz, blues, or R&B classic and create lyrics pertaining to their favorite subject over the music. If your child likes the above activities, have them create a book of poems or an entire CD on the topic. Their creativity may spread to other topics they learn about in school or at home.

Teach it

Once your child becomes knowledgeable on a particular subject, have him or her teach others about it. For example, they can volunteer to tutor classmates on the topic after school or on the weekends. Have older children present a PowerPoint presentation on their favorite topics. These experiences will reinforce knowledge already learned and may motivate your child to teach in the future.

Facilitate your child’s learning by providing them with activities that utilize their interests. Show them ways to make learning fun, and soon, they will be able to see it that way.