Wouldn’t it be nice if we all knew at an early age exactly what we were meant to do in this life? Yeah, it would have been nice, but that’s not the way it played out for most of us (raises hand meekly).
Times have changed. More parents than ever are opting to homeschool, and with that happy news brings new hope for helping kids discover their passion early in life.
But does the world really need more people developing their natural gifts and living their best lives? Yes! Absolutely!
Let’s walk through steps you can take to turbocharge the discovery and development of your child’s natural interests.
Notice the Signs
The truth is that public school classrooms are limited to teaching subjects mandated by the county school board. Homeschooling also needs to follow those standards, but as a homeschool teacher, you’re right there when lessons are taught. That means you have a prime opportunity to witness first-hand what your child is drawn to.
Do your child’s eyes light up when you teach a specific subject? Does their posture change? Do they engage in the conversation more? Do they ask more questions?
You know your child best. Watch for signs that a specific subject consistently engages them more than others.
Foster Individual Enthusiasm
Unfortunately, guiding kids toward their passion isn’t something that teachers in traditional classrooms can do for every individual student.
But guess what? You can. Homeschooling is the perfect opportunity to give them extra encouragement for something that sparks their interest.
If you see them paying extra attention to a specific topic, be sure to look them in the eyes and let them know you notice their effort. Talk about how proud you are that they’re focusing on something that’s important to them.
Even if they’re not on the right track of whatever it is they’re trying to do, praise them for trying. Say something about how everything takes trial and error—that’s how we learn.
The most important thing here is that they notice you paying extra attention to them when they’re doing something they love.
Remember, flattery still works at this elementary school age. Individual attention from their homeschool teacher (you!) that encourages their talent goes a long way toward setting them up for a successful life doing what they love. A parent’s dream!
Find the Right Activity
Once you identify your child’s interest, guide them toward an extracurricular activity that helps them expand that interest.
For example, maybe your 5th grader perks up every time you talk about black holes in your science curriculum. That could be a wonderful opportunity to look into after-school astronomy clubs.
Or maybe your child is unusually animated whenever they’re tasked with a writing assignment. You could sign them up for writing classes at your local community center. Or research after-school writing clubs. Maybe there’s a writing event at your local library?
Asking questions on social media is usually a clever way to find what you’re looking for.
Here’s a great article about how to pick the right activity.
Guide them toward an activity that you think would expand their interest. Then take the time to listen to their feedback. If they don’t feel like a certain activity is right for them, keep thinking. Google other options. Together!
Take a Step Back
Once you locate the right outlet for your child’s interest, it’s really important to let them do the rest of the legwork on their own (except the driving, of course). If they need help signing up for the activity, absolutely offer to help.
As long as the activity is safe and doesn’t conflict with other family obligations, let them explore it by themselves, so they feel like they own it.
It can be a tough task to both let them take the reins and also let them know that you’re there if they need you. But give it a try—it’s a crucial part of guiding your child toward a sense of ownership for their unique talent.
Let’s sum it up. Homeschooling is the perfect environment to help your child discover and develop their life passion. As their teacher, watch for signs that they’re unusually engaged in a specific subject. Encourage that enthusiasm and find extracurricular activities that will help them explore the subject on their own.
Leave the rest to them so they feel like they own it and can discover that they’re good at it. Then watch their confidence soar!