Finding Your Child’s Passions

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She loves skating, swimming, birds, playing with languages, and snuggling in the bed reading books. She dislikes playing the violin (so far), jumping into water, and being asked to do any structured learning activity that doesn’t seem like fun at the time. She’s getting into reading, although this falls into the middle ground between snuggling with books and structured learning activities that sometimes seem hard. She’s my daughter, and like all children she is a wonderful mix of interests and deep dislikes.

Schooled children may or may not find their passions in school. Maybe your child adores math. Then again, perhaps he really like bats and would like to become a biologist who visits bat caves. Who knows? In school, finding your child’s passions is a little hit and miss. School opens up many different worlds to children, but all of the children receive the same information on the same timeline. That’s called curriculum. Whether your child connects to the curriculum is a little bit of a gamble. A parent of a schooled child needs to be deeply aware of interests that might fall outside the curriculum and encourage the development of these interests as well.

Homeschooled or unschooled children have a little more leeway, unless you’re following the curriculum to a T. Even then, your children probably have a bit more time to play and follow their interests than schooled children do, since the curriculum takes less time when it’s done one-on-one.

Use this time to watch your child. When your child plays or when you go on outings, what does your child focus on? What does she enjoy in books or on television? Is there anyone in the community she admires? Any friends with interests that spark something in her eye? Use your knowledge of your child’s interests to begin to open doors for her. Sign her up for a class or connect her to a mentor in the community. Gather special books for her to read. Explore a subject together, if your child wishes to do so.

You don’t need to force passion on your child. Maybe she likes to play with Lego. That’s fine. Maybe she likes to solve quadratic equations. That’s fine too. Notice the spark but don’t fan it too quickly. Allow it to grow on its own, and you’ll see it mature to a nice, fine flame.

How do you help your child find her passions?

Image courtesy of Camyam73 at Stock Exchange.