The goal is for your child to follow her fancy, perhaps without much purpose sometimes and with great purpose other times. Your job is to be available, if needed, to help. See yourself as a facilitator and guide on the side. Suggestions for making it work:
1. Structure time, instead of activity. For 30 minutes to two hours every weekday (try to start the same time every day), allow your child to do whatever she is interested in within the bounds you set up. Boundaries might include no video games designed by someone other than your child and physical boundaries about where she is allowed to go.
2. Brainstorm interests. Allow time before or during one of these "Pursue a passion times" for your child to brainstorm what she is interested in learning about. Ask him to think about what he would like to know how to do or what he would like to be better at. It can have to do with school, but it doesn't have to. You can jump start the brainstorming by wondering if he would like to learn more about any science or social studies topics, or whether he wants to improve her soccer skills or learn another sport, or what he would like to build.
3. Go deeper. Once an interest is identified, let your child play with ways to pursue it by asking how she could learn more or get better at it. Don't shut down ideas at this point - maybe, for example, there is a way to build a fort in your yard! Offer books or websites that can generate ideas. Whatever you do, don't make this an unwanted task for your child. If she wants to go to the library to pursue learning more about her passion, then go. If she would like to talk to a neighbor who knowledgeable about the passion, help her arrange for a visit. Videos on youTube (appropriately supervised) can also educate and inspire.
4. Intentionally plan. Particularly after you both have a little experience, encourage your child to more intentionally plan his project or how he will spend his daily time. The Plan-Do-Review tool in Teach Your Kids to Think can help.
5. Choose an audience. If your child is interested, ask your child to choose an audience (beyond you) for the learning. Who would like to hear about her pursuits or see the fruits of her labor? Knowing she will share can inspire her and give purpose to her efforts. Even if her passion is not a community service, thoughtfully sharing with an audience allows your child to feel good about contributing to the lives of others.
Depending on your child's age, temperament, and the character of instruction at his school, spending time pursuing his passions may come more or less easily. Keep trying! Here's a quick list of potential passions (many alluded to above): cake decorating, gardening, a sport, video or photography, designing video games (try Scratch and Gamestar Mechanic), manufacturing toys, forts, and making any number of things (for older kids, makeprojects.com is a great resource).
Enjoy the summer! Here's hoping time-to-pursue-interests will become a year-round activity!