There is a big emphasis in schools today on ‘finding your talents’, identifying your strengths’ and ‘finding your purpose’. It seems like the adults in charge have perhaps taken what their hearts are pondering on and have directed this at the kids. The thing is that kids need to eventually find out these things but surely childhood is for experimenting, experiencing and then perhaps eventually finding those things that make them ‘come alive’.
My niece recently asked me “What talents does your baby have?”. Perhaps this over-emphasis on solidifying a persons talent and skill comes from the overly-competitive society in which we live? Find your talent and achieve! My leaning is that children need a far broader experience of life before being ‘boxed’ as a tennis star at age 7.
As a parent, one of our big roles is guiding our kids along the journey of life. All parents want their children to have a fulfilled life and do things that they enjoy. I mean many people who begin exploring something as an interest end up with it becoming their career! I believe that one of the most important things we can do is to support our children in discovering these and then help them by nurtuting them.
- Expose them to a wide range of experiences and people and see which ones peak their interest.
- Harness the internet (YouTube) is particularly useful to broaden your child’s understanding about a particular sport or hobby. By watching some clips together they can get some idea of what an activity may entail.
- Keep a watch on your child’s natural leanings- What are they most inclined to read, listen to, talk about or watch?
- Explore your neighbourhood. Visit the places on your doorstep and enjoy discovering which of these are particularly enjoyable to your child.
- Read a wide range of books and child-friendly magazines with them and let them browse book stores for things they are keen on.
- Check out what clubs or community activities are happening in the area. Many of these will happily allow you to participate and join in.
- Make use of extra-murals on offer at schools. (Remember that signing up your child for every extra-mural in a term in an effort to expose them to new ideas can overload them and selecting a different one each term is perhaps a better plan.)
- Ask them about things you have done before, places they have enjoyed or things that they have done previously. Which of these made them feel excited? happy? full of joy?
- Speak to their teacher and read those report comments. Maybe they have identified something which you have missed.
- Grab a piece of paper and jot down what you believe to be the top 5 things your child would choose to spend their free time doing. then ask your child the same question!
Ideas of Interests and Hobbies:
- Science/experiments/a particular field/electronics
- Survival skills
- Nature-related- bird watching/animals, star gazing,
- Computer skills/softwear/App building
- Creative such as flower pressing, calligraphy, fine art, graphic art, cartooning, printing, photography, paper crafts
- A sport (team or individual)
- Crafts- beadwork, woodwork etc
- Writing stories or poems
I hope this has been a helpful list of ways to figure out a child’s interests. For some kids it may very very obvious in some aspects like which sport they enjoy but in other spheres it can a lot more tricky. One thing that I do know is that our modern day kids have far less hobbies and wholesome pastimes than the kids of previous generations. Entertainment, school and sports takes up a larger part of their time leaving little room for much else. Let us support our kids an intentionally guide them as they figure out their own unique set of interests- some that may last a life time!