drj asked, and I hope this answers.
I am usually autobiographical only in short bursts, referencing events in Village Idiot life solely for illustration of other points. As most of my visitors come over from psychoblogger sites where I comment, they come over expecting political, social, parenting, or mental health issues. These usually attract the most followup commentary. The linguistics are jarring, and perhaps puzzling, especially as I am not a language professional in any way.
But my interest in linguistics bears on issues of education, parenting, and meaning, so a bit of biography can be used to illustrate some other important concepts. I call it a cup hooks theory of learning. Either cup hooks or shelving must be installed if the cups are to be put away in most orderly fashion. Only when there is a framework suitable for cups present can you store more than a few with any hope of finding what you need. Once there is a framework, however, a wide variety of cups might be stored on it.
My brother became fascinated by the Civil War in 5th grade, the first subject he had shown much interest in. He became a fountain of information by late highschool. While any such monomania looks narrow at first, once the structure is erected, other things just naturally get attached to it. Almost accidentally, he picked up knowledge in related, and ever-expanding areas. He learned the geography of the eastern US. Historical events just before and just after the war were easy to incorporate. He acquired some military history, some economic history, some knowledge of slavery, and of custom. This framework was in place for all future learning.
Rejoice if your child finds a subject of fascination.
Knowledge needs a framework, or it just piles up at the bottom of your brain, unusable. Each stage of learning depends on the ones before it. My linguistics framework was built up accidentally out of other subjects of interest. I have always liked curiosities and little-known facts. I have a mind like an attic, full of charming and potentially useful things with no immediate application. As I have always liked solving puzzles, word puzzles just got dragged in for the ride. But certain specific skeins went into learning about language.
I was a folksinger because it was cool in a certain intellectual way, and began acquiring old songs via the Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, and PP&M. I never had much interest in anything but American and English/Scottish songs, but I enjoyed pushing those back as far in time as I could. History and language just came in as part of the background. I took German because everyone else was taking French and Spanish, so that was cooler.
Though many friends suggested I would like Tolkien, I didn’t read him until end of freshman year. I became an immediate fanatic, and devoured the few volumes of commentary about him available in the early 70’s. Tolkien dragged in Anglo-Saxon, King Arthur, and the whole northern mythology. I studied Beowulf, and added in Vikings because I had some Scandinavian ancestors. These in turn brought in all that heroic fantasy in children’s literature: Lloyd Alexander, CS Lewis (which tied back into Tolkien again), Alan Garner, Peter Beagle, Susan Cooper, Mary Stewart, and a dozen others. By pursuing avidly a certain sort of northern European adventure story, I found that I picked up a lot of knowledge about Wales, and Wagner, and waistcoats. I took the occasional college course about medieval literature or linguistics. Discovering Steeleye Span loosely tied the folk music fascination into the medieval adventures. Being one of the few Yankees among southerners, I defensively focused on New England history and learned about dialects, which was also useful in the theater.
From Lewis I learned Christ, and though the other loves did not go away, they receded a bit. As a new Christian I started reading the Bible, which brought in a little Greek, a little Hebrew, a little Latin, as well as older eras of history. I had little interest in Greek and Roman literature and history, and still don’t, but some came in unannounced. In reading Church history I naturally gravitated to my previous favorite eras, and so read Luther and Aquinas. More usually, I read about them and their times rather than their works directly. The word-games and etymological curiosities kept attaching themselves to the existing frameworks, and the connecting threads twined together. My fascination with Lewis has remained strong, and this has fed unexpected bits into my linguistic knowledge as well.
I have lots of interests which never quite tied into this group: sports history, number theory, science fiction, and astronomy, for example. But more often, whatever I put my mind to would weave its way in: genealogy, hymnody, learning, neurology, child development, adopting Romanians. I had studied linguistics directly only as a small part of a single college course, but found myself at age 40 with many of the pieces in place that a linguistics major would have acquired. So a book on the history of the Indo-Europeans satisfies many interests at once/
Many of the same pieces fell together in kaleidoscope fashion to give me a solid knowledge of the colonial American churches.
Later addition: I forgot Jewish history, espionage, and sexual offenders. I just keep picking up these fascinations which last for 3-4 years. I'm 52, and it eventually adds up.