One of my fuzzy goals for this year (which I don’t think I told you about) is to nurture my kids’ talents and encourage their interests. This goal was daunting, not only because it was fuzzy, but because I just didn’t know how.
I’ve spent over five months thinking it over. I’m still no expert–not even close–but I’ve developed a framework for what it looks like at my house, and I’m going to write a few posts exploring this a little. (If you don’t have kids, no big deal–these tenets work just as well for me as they do for my little ones.)
Let’s cut to the chase: nurturing my kids’ talents looks like a giant mess.
This isn’t the obvious starting point. I wanted to begin this series with the Lofty and Idealistic–because I love exploring the Big Thoughts more than I like sharing bad news–but let’s face it: working on this goal looks pretty chaotic in the day-to-day.
In the past few months, I’ve realized that encouraging my kids’ interests means giving them space to create. The creative process is a mess. And the bolder the project, the bigger the mess.
This used to drive me crazy. (Want proof? Try here. And here.) But I’m coming to terms with it, with the help of a friendly nudge from The Nester. (And this Simple Mom podcast where she and Tsh delve into the concept a bit more.)
I’m granting my kids the space they need to create, and make messes. And it looks like this:
My firstborn (age 10) is extremely frustrated that LEGO doesn’t sell a Titanic set. So he’s making one:
We’ve checked a dozen boat books out of the library. He’s researched and built and re-built. He’s penciling out directions (because LEGO sets come with directions). He’s been working on this project for months, and we’ve designated a special space that he doesn’t have to clean up every night for this project.
My oldest daughter (age 8) loves to sew. Right now, she wants to be a fashion designer. Or a seamstress. Or a tailor.
She is constantly sketching new concepts, drafting new patterns, creating new projects. And–after many arguments about the scope and the mess–we’ve granted her this space, where she doesn’t have to clean up her work after each sewing session. She has to clean up after herself (at least a little), but her current project can remain as-is, ready and waiting for her to pick back up tomorrow.
My second daughter is 5: she’s uncovering her interests and discovering her talents. She spends a ton of (self-directed) time doing art. She has an “art desk,” but it can’t hold all her big ideas (so she says).
Encouraging her creativity looks like letting her spread her spreading her materials across the living room floor, and leaving them until the project is done. (As long as it’s done by the end of the night, at which point she scoops them up and puts them on her art desk.)
I have no idea which interests will stick for the long term, but it doesn’t matter. We’re laying the foundation, establishing the habits, creating the rhythms. In the long run, this is a good thing.
In the short term, it’s pretty messy.
What do you do to encourage your kids’s interests and nurture their talents?