5 Ways to Help Kids Learn What They’re Passionate About
by Linda De Carvalho
For some of us, the hardest thing in life is finding what we love to do while others seem to gravitate towards it naturally. Either way, it’s important to discover what you are most passionate about. Achieving a career path that includes what motivates you can help make your work life worthwhile. If you get paid for what you love to do, you’ve achieved what most people only dream about.
But ask any teenager what he or she is planning to do following graduation and many times you’ll get the response, “I don’t know.” Or talk to college students about their future and you might be surprised at how many have changed their majors and are not sure what they want to do with their degree. Yet, if you ask a child in elementary school, you might get immediate answers like “nurse,” “firefighter,” or “teacher.” These primary school children may be on to something! Or are they responding based on a show or presentation they’ve seen on You Tube, TV, or at school?
According to Deborah Yaffe, College, Careers, and Kindergarten (District Administration), even early learners “can start preparing for life after graduation.” But being ready for the “demands of college and careers,” although equally important, does not necessarily speak to what kind of activities motivates and inspires kids. And as Deborah reminds us in her article, even the experts caution that efforts to meet educational standards should not be void of fun activities and choices.
Can parents or caregivers help children find what they love to do? Here are a few things to try:
- Leave your own preferences out of it. Set aside your own preconceived notions about what your children should do! Let them figure out for themselves what motivates them. Have discussions with your children that include their ideas of what they’d like to do now and what they see themselves doing later as grownups.
- Skip the labels. Don’t let their gender or personality dictate the type of interests they should pursue. It will help kids to understand themselves better when they learn more about what attracts them, not what is externally expected of them. If your daughter is a tomboy, take her camping! Get them to connect with nature, with people, and with the community.
- Explore, explore, explore! Get out of the house and provide your kids with exposure to new and different activities to try. You’ll love the smiles on their faces when they find something they truly enjoy. If they’re good at it is irrelevant. The goal is to find an activity they enjoy. Remember, this is discovery time.
- Sign ‘em up! Look for classes, summer camps, interactive museums, and other activities that may inspire your children. Check out the local community centers for starters to find things that might interest them.
- Be patient and look on the bright side. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to determine what you love to do, so don’t rush your child. Kids learn at their own pace, so just relax and enjoy the ride! And don’t be surprised if they change their minds along the way. What they love to do this week, may be what they hate next week.
One thing is for sure, as children try to find what they love to do, they’ll also figure out what they don’t want to do in life and that’s just as important.