Parenting: Discovering Interests of a Child

parentingages and stages

discovering interests

Did you miss out on dance as a kid? Me too, but my parents never knew I was interested in it.  Same with choir, but I did get to play the violin for a few years.  Before I had kids, I told myself I'd let them choose their activities.  Do what they wanted to do, not what I wanted to do.  However, when my daughter was born I wondered how she would even know what she wanted to do!

So how do you know what they want to do?

Discovering Interests

toddler with toy guitar

Like most toddlers, my daughter loves to climb on everything—including me.  She also likes to jump around and off of things. Rissa is a bundle of non-stop energy. When she was 18 months old, I started looking around for a tumbling class in the area. I found one, but dreaded the thought of paying for a class she might not like. Their website listed open gym hours, so I took her to one. It still cost a few dollars, but it wasn't a big deal if we never returned again.

Well, she loved it. All 10 weeks of it!

Last year I couldn't ask her if she wanted to go to gymnastics class. She didn't know what it was until she was enrolled in tumbling. This summer? She told me she wanted to go! There are a few other activities I'd like her to check out, but I'm trying to make sure they are what she wants to do—not what I want to do—which is why I use interest LAW (Listen, Ask, Watch) to guide our enrollments.

  • Listen—What do your kids talk about a lot? What are they asking questions about? Do they know more about something than you thought they did? Do they make up songs or stories?
  • Ask—Question what they like and why. Would they like to know/see/hear more about ___? Want to try ___? (When I ask my daughter if she wants to try a dance class she closes her eyes and starts twirling around. Thinking that's a yes?)
  • Watch—Do they act out certain roles (ex: doctor, teacher, cook)? What shows do they like to watch? What are they making their toys do?

No Class Necessary

I've been making note of recurring interests and seeing how we can expand on them. Encouraging our kids to develop their interests and hobbies isn't limited to formal classes though. Make sure to check with the library, community center, and local businesses too. For example, a local art studio has week-long art camps for kids. Get creative in nurturing their curiosity!

Do they like flowers? Plant a garden!

Do they like trains? Visit a train museum!

What tips do you have for encouraging your children to explore their passions?

Darcy Zalewski Darcy spends her days entertaining two children under three years old while still exploring her own interests.  She shares her "Tales From the Nursery," a collection of the passions, struggles, and triumphs that come with motherhood.  Connect with Darcy on her blog or on Google+!

Feature image courtesy of sixninepixels/

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