Identifying and cultivating your child's passions is an important part of raising them to be life-long learners

Have you ever really thought about what makes your child's heart sing? I bet if you thought about it, you could name the thing that would do it. Isn't it delightful when you can capture it easily enough and share it with your child?

One of the things I think is important as a parent is to engage our children often enough that we really know what they are passionate about. How do you know? How do you find out? Does it require expensive lessons and lots of venues for trying out lots of things? No, I don't really think so. I think the resource it requires the most of is our time as parents. When we invest time in our children, it's easy to figure out what brings them joy.

Identifying the Passion

My guess is that many of us would love to pour into a child's passion, but where do you start? The first thing I want to encourage you to do is to identify your child's passion. From there, we can explore ways to invest in that passion. So, how do you know what your child is passionate about? Essentially, it boils down to spending time with your children and being very observant about who they are, and how they interact with the world around them.

If your children are older, you likely have a good idea of what they enjoy. That doesn't mean you've identified a clear interest or orientation to one particular thing. If they are old enough, you can always ask!

Younger children may still be developing their passion, but it will show up. Observe your children and see if something stands out. I highly recommend the book How Am I Smart: A Parent's Guide to Multiple Intelligences by Kathy Koch. Based on the research of Howard Gardener on Multiple Intelligences (takes me back to my days in graduate school), Dr. Kathy breaks the theory down and helps parents see their children in a whole new light. You'll learn about the eight types of intelligence, and how your child behaves based on the various kinds of smart (and you'll see glimpses of yourself as well!). The author really helps parents (and kids) understand who they are. For us as homeschoolers, knowing about the different types of smart is an essential tool in knowing the best way to educate our children—this goes beyond the three familiar learning styles and makes it much easier to see strengths and things to work on. You'll also learn how smarts can be awakened and can go dormant as a result of our experiences.

I'll add here that Dr. Kathy gives parents encouragement on parenting the children we have, not the ones we wish we had! This one statement helps to fuel our own desire to pour into them based on who they are. So, be an observer of your children and remember that negative behavior (in all of us) is usually the result of an unfocused strength. I'll let you all think about that one!

We have four children ranging from 13 to 6, and they have distinct interests and abilities. I'll be sharing about our children and their passions in this series, along with what we've done to fan the flame and really develop a skill and talent.

Some questions to ask yourself as you seek to identify the passion:

  • What is your child interested in?
  • What is she good at?
  • What does your child do in his spare time?
  • What would he spend his money on, if he had some?
  • What does he like to talk about?
  • Ask her! (this works well if they are older kids)

Sometimes it won't be you who discovers a hidden talent in your children. While I always knew that my almost 12-year-old daughter is extremely kinesthetic, I did not know how much she would love sewing. Yet it only took one week at her grandparents' house and a sewing project with Grandma to awaken a love for the sewing machine at 8 years old! If you are a new reader, then you are in for a treat on how we pour into our daughter's passion for sewing.

In summary, one of the best things we can do for our kids is to learn what makes their heart sing, and to pursue that with our time and resources—rather than every little thing that comes along.

Heather Woodie is a homeschooling mom of four kids and wife to a handsome chemical engineer. Before raising a family, she taught middle school science. Between family and homeschooling time, she is working for MOPS International as an Area Coordinator. You can read about her homeschooling adventures at Blog She Wrote.

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