Parents want the best for their children, and encouraging them to pursue interests that capture their imagination is crucial for this. That is why one of the most important things we can do as parents is to encourage our kids when they demonstrate a passion for a particular topic or activity. The good news is there are many effective ways to support our children in exploring the things that appeal to them. Just read on to find out what they are.
A note on their passions versus yours
Often we begin our parenting adventure with ideas of the things that we would like our kids to be interested in, whether those be sports, academic subjects or arts and crafts. The thing is that our kids will often surprise us with how different their likes are from our own. While this can be disappointing it is also vital that we listen to and support them in the passions they develop independently of us. Otherwise, we could end up quashing an important calling or opportunity for satisfaction that can enhance our child’s lives.
Buy them some books on the subject
One of the most straightforward ways to encourage your child to explore the things they are most interested in is to buy them some books on the subject. For example, if they just can’t get enough of history there are some truly fabulous books designed specifically for children that offer interactive, pop up, and even gross accounts of various periods in history such as The Ancient Egyptians, The Tudors, and The Romans.
It’s your choice as to whether to buy real paper books or eBooks to read on a device like an iPad or Kindle, it doesn’t matter too much as long as your child is happy using them. Of course, reading these books with them, or getting them to read them to you is a great way of connecting with your child’s passions and encouraging their literacy skills at the same time.
The good news is there are books suitable for all ages of children on just about every topic under the sun. Just bear in mind that younger kids may appreciate more picture heavy literature until their reading skills are advanced enough to cope with adult level writing.
Watch a film or documentary together
There is so much visual media on offer that finding some that match your child’s interests is a great way to encourage them to pursue their passions. For example, if your child is developing a love of Dinosaurs there are a whole range of films from the Jurassic Park Series (if they are old enough) to classics like The Land That Time Forget. Making clear that these films are works of fiction is important though.
Then there are all the amazing documentaries such as Walking With Dinosaurs that you can watch together. You’ll even find plenty of Dino Experts offering shorter, more bite-sized videos on platforms like YouTube. Although, it may be best to stick to verified experts, to begin with, so things do get too confusing.
Enroll them in a program
While it’s great to encourage your child’s interests at home, sometimes they will need more expertise than you can offer. The good news is that there are plenty of programs set up for kids to help them learn more about what they are most passionate about.
Particularly good examples of this are the Junior Space Entrepreneur Programs and Cadet Space Explorer Programs run by Discovery Central. You can learn more here about these courses and their curriculum, but in a nutshell, they offer amazing opportunities for young people to run real-time simulations of a Mars mission. All while using their creativity and knowledge to overcome the obstacles that they encounter.
Invest in some materials
It’s nearly always better to give time and attention to your kids rather than throw money and things at them. There is an argument for providing your children with the correct materials to allow them to explore their interests and passions.
In particular, those that are in love with art and drawing will benefit from some basic materials such as paper, pencils, paint and brushes. A desk at which to work can make things easier for the whole family too, and you might even like to invest in an easel for their birthday or Christmas.
A child with a passion for building things and engineering, on the other hand, will need access to the materials that will allow them to do this. Starting in a more basic form with wooden blocks or lego is a smart idea, Although there are now some very advanced robotics kits that combine engineering and computer programming that any child would be delighted with and that would help them get a step up in this field.
Go on a field trip
Last of all, a great way to encourage your child to explore their passions is to plan and take them on a relevant field trip. Indeed, field trips can be a lot of fun, because not only will they provide the excitement of getting out into the big wide world, but you can pick a location that matches your child’s interests well.
For example, if your little one just can’t get enough of nature and animals, how about taking them on a field trip to the zoo? There are plenty of things you can do when you get there too, from touring the exhibits to getting them to take pictures or draw the animals they come across.
You might even ask them to find out some facts about the animals they are most interested in, so they can educate you when you get to a specific enclosure. They sure will get a kick out of that!
Other great locations for field trips that will encourage your child’s interest are museums, art galleries, and historical sites. Indeed, the latter often have actors dressed in historically accurate clothing that can give your child lots of specialist information in a very engaging way.