This is the second post in a not-quite series about nurturing my kids’ talents and encouraging their interests. Read the first post here.
I am pretty much the opposite of a tiger mother. I never got a chance to get all philosophical about it; it’s just not my personality to push my kids hard. But my family homeschools, so at least we have time on our side: My kids have a lot of hours each day to focus on their interests. The extra time keeps me from freaking out about not doing “enough.”
Sometimes I start freaking out anyway, wondering if I’m truly encouraging my kids the way they need to be encouraged. When that happens, my husband tries to talk me down by repeating our mantra: content rich environment. (Sometimes this looks like a messy environment, but anyway….) Right now, while they’re young, the best thing I can do to nurture my kids’ talents and encourage their interests is to surround them with good stuff and give them time and space to dive in. (And actually, this isn’t a bad approach for grown-ups, either.)
My general strategy is to keep the house stocked with whatever they need to do their thing–whatever their thing happens to be at the moment. We also try to give them room to explore so they can learn about new things that may or may not blossom into serious interests. (That’s why we usually have 50 items checked out from the library. At least.)
We’ve also paid actual money for a few activities. Kiwi Crate has been a good one, because not only do my daughters enjoy putting the crates together, but they then dream up their own Kiwi Crate-style projects. You know, so they’re ready to get a job designing crates when they’re all grown up. (LEGO Master Builder Academy was another “investment”–as far as kids’ projects go–that I’d make again in a heartbeat.)
(UPDATE: Kiwi Crate just started a new promotion: start a new subscription to Kiwi Crate, get your third month free. Cancel anytime. Offer expires July 1.)
My son will do anything Titanic-related, so I grabbed this puzzle when I saw it on Amazon. It’s a tough one (deep waters, starry sky) and in the many hours we’ve spent working on this thing he’s never stopped reeling off Titanic facts. He doesn’t need to know the history of the Titanic to succeed in life, but he does need to know how to concentrate, absorb facts, and dive deeply into a subject. He’s getting it down.
We try to give them space and supplies to create. We keep art supplies at the ready, and let them make a big mess if they’re making a big project. (Within limits, so I don’t lose my mind.)
I have at least one budding author in my house, but I want all my kids to develop good writing skills so we’re making it easy. We stock paper and pens (good ones, just like Mom and Dad’s) and notebooks, of course, but we also keep a basket of notecards handy. It’s great writing practice, but it feels like it’s just for fun. Plus, what kid doesn’t love getting mail? Win/win/win.
I still feel like a novice. I am still a novice. My oldest child is only 10. But so far, this general approach is working for us. We’re at the intersection of deliberate and hands-off, of structure and freedom, and so far it’s suiting everyone’s personality, big or small.
I’d love to hear what you do to nurture your kids’ talents and encourage their interests. Share tips/philosophies/rambling musings in comments.