Using Passions and Hobbies as Learning Tools

A mother-daughter team take studying to the next level with an outside-the-box teaching method that pairs a student's passions with learning vocabulary for the SATs.

Like any mother, Jennie Ann Freiman vetted through her options before deciding to homeschool her daughter Charis during her middle school years, who was described by some educators as an "alternative learner," a student whose learning style is not quite in sync with traditional teaching methods. 

cook your way through the satIn the process, the mother-daughter team discovered a unique way to turn Charis's passion of cooking into higher test scores, and this September published their material in an innovative cookbook, Cook Your Way Through the S.A.T.

The book presents a collection of 99 recipes that are supplemented with fun-fact blurbs on the history of ingredients and recipes using 10 SAT vocabulary words and a short matching test, all the while shedding light on a valuable lesson in teaching methods for parents and educators alike.?  

"Charis has this amazing passion for cooking that she had since she was little," Jennie explains. "We had to have a creative outlet, combining her passion for food with her need to study. And memorizing lists of vocabulary words is not only incredibly boring, but it doesn't really work. Engaging her in an activity she loved actually really gave her a true understanding of the vocabulary. She had to write. She had to incorporate these words to write about the recipes—a topic she liked."

With recent statistics released by the College Board showing a dip in average SAT scores in the U.S., this cookbook comes during a time that may illustrate the need for innovative teaching methods that match a child's learning style.

"Given the amazing diversity of children that are in all of the schools in the New York [metro area]," Jennie says, "teachers and parents have to come up with different ways for youth to learn."

Parents with kids in traditional schools can take a cue from Jennie and Charis's story. Examine the extracurricular activities your kids enjoy.

"If you can use your child's passions for learning," Jennie says, "they don't even realize they are learning—they are just doing what they love."