How to Have a Genius Hour at Home

For your child to develop a passion for learning, and an inquisitive and a problem-solving attitude, gift her with a ‘genius hour’.

By Arun Sharma

How to Have a Genius Hour at Home

The idea of granting a student a ‘genius hour’ has its origins in a similar policy adopted by Google for its employees. Google allowed its employees to spend 20% of their work time on projects that were of interest to them and the results were amazing.

Taking a cue from this, educators around the globe started stressing on its importance in the field of education as well, and the idea is slowly catching up.

Elaine Simos published an article titled, ‘Genius Hour: Critical Inquiry and Differentiation’, in the journal English Leadership Quarterly in August 2015. In her study, she states, “Ultimately, the student performance levels demonstrated irrefutably a central truth: Genius Hour work builds investiture in the learning process by meeting students at their own level and empowering them to surpass that level every step of the way.”

So, while the concept is gradually gaining acceptance worldwide, won’t it be wonderful if you could manage to get a head start on other parents and introduce ‘genius hour’ to your child earlier? Let’s take a look at how you can organise a genius hour at home and help your child get the most from it.

Objectives of genius hour:

To help your child make the most of the genius hour, you need to have a clear understanding of its main objectives. Genius hour at home should:

  • Provide your child the opportunity to research on a subject of his choice (or one you choose for him)
  • Identify the problems and investigate it from various perspectives to come up with solutions
  • Analyse the solutions and understand what would work and what wouldn’t
  • Present the findings of his research

What to work on during the genius hour:

If neither you nor your child can come up with ideas on what to work on during the genius hour, don’t worry. There are a number of resources on the Internet from where you can get some good ideas about projects that other children are doing. Your child can take one of many ideas and start working on it. Visiting websites like 20Time on Google+, geniushour.com, and trello.com will throw up a host of projects that children around the world are working on.

How to help your child make the most of the genius hour:

1. Select an age-appropriate project: From your own experience, or by browsing the Internet, come up with a project that suits your child’s age, interests and abilities. Some interesting topics may be, ‘What are blackholes?’, ‘How did humans evolve?’, ‘How do aeroplanes fly’. Break each project into different stages depending on its complexity. To make things challenging, you can also ask your child the time in which he can complete the project and set a deadline. But, while doing all this, remember to keep your child involved as well.

2. Guide your child: While most children are enthusiastic about learning and trying out new ideas, some are reluctant to begin something about which they may not know much. If you find your child unwilling to proceed ahead or not making much headway in the task, sit down with him to handhold him and kick-start the process.

3. Coax your child to take the lead: Once you have handheld your child and guided her through the initial stages, step back and let her take control. Don’t be disheartened if her progress does not match your expectations, allow her to work at her own comfortable pace. It is important to remember that the objective of the entire exercise is to foster an independent learning attitude, and some children just take that little bit of extra time.

4. Connect and collaborate: Working on a project, as well as one of the objectives of the genius hour, is not just about completing the task, it is also about connecting and collaborating. Help your child connect with someone who you think can mentor your child or help him with some of the critical details he may need to make his work look outstanding. You can also encourage him to find such resources on his own as well. However, if your child wants to connect with someone online, read him the rules of Internet safety. 


5. Engage and track progress: While your child is working on a project, draw her into a discussion once in a while. This will give you an idea of the progress she is making and the roadblocks she is facing. You can pitch in with your ideas as well to help him speed up things or get around any blocks.Genius hour is one of the best ways to help your child grow up into a well-rounded individual. So, put your thinking cap on and come up with some great ideas to take advantage of this concept.


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