The early years are arguably the most important determinant for the character of your children. Many of the interests and passions that we nurture at this developmental time will greatly influence the journey they take for the rest of their lives. So, as parents, we should do our utmost to listen to our children and encourage them to follow their hearts.
Unsurprisingly, a good parent-child relationship coupled with a good degree of avocation has massive health benefits. One twenty-year long research project that came to a conclusion in 2012 found a high amount of parental nurturance and mental stimulation can greatly improve cognitive ability well into their mid-teens and beyond. If you think your child has an affinity for a particular subject, then be sure to fan the flames with the following measures:
Explore the subject with them
Sit down with your child and ask them questions about what it is that interests them. Afterwards, you’ll most likely find yourself in two positions. You might realise they aren’t as into it as much as you thought they were. On the other hand, if your suspicions are reaffirmed, try to focalise the interest. They might say they’re interested in “art” for example – but what kind of “art”? Painting? Sculpting? At the end of the discussion it should be clearer.
Trust your instinct
Sometimes a child may not be able to articulate, or fully understand what it is they are interested in. In that case, follow your judgement. There really is no room for failure here, only experiment. (Unless, of course, you’ve spent a lot of money on an expensive hobby despite a real lack of interest.) Without opening the door, your child may not know what they’re missing.
Ask the school
The school is often a brilliant starting point, both to pick the minds of teachers and to make use of after school classes. These can range from book clubs, to music practice, to football training, and are generally cost effective and aimed at beginners. Fortunately, even if these after school classes are unavailable to you, you shouldn’t have to look too far and often the school will know of where you can find tutors or groups to help. Or it may well spark the school to look into starting a class of their own.
See what your community has to offer
Providing you don’t live in a rural backwater, the likelihood is there’s already more than enough opportunities in the local community for your child to adequately pursue their hobbies. Contact your local artists, studios, or libraries and there will be somebody on the other end happy to help. Dance companies, for example, are very popular with young girls. If your child is obsessed with dance, surprise them with a pair of girl’s ballet shoes this Christmas.
Finally, show an interest yourself
One of the best ways to encourage your child is to support and care about what it is they love. This means displaying some interest yourself, if not for the subject, then for your child’s enthusiasm. The part you play will be vital: getting your child to the lesson on time, motivating them when they feel uninspired, and reiterating why it’ll all be worthwhile in the long run.
*This is a collaborative post*