Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could unleash our child’s full potential by inspiring them to dream, unlocking their innovation and capitalizing on their creativity?
A few years ago when our three kids were younger, my husband and I spoke frequently about giving our kids the opportunity to foster a passion outside of their day-to-day rigor of school.
We felt it was important for each of them to find a hobby, sport or activity that they not only enjoyed and looked forward to, but also something they would be good at.
Knowing full well that school would become more demanding and challenging as they grew older, we wanted to give them an outlet to build their confidence and self-esteem, so if and when they experienced difficult times in the classroom where they perhaps weren’t doing well or found themselves struggling to grasp a concept, their outside hobby, activity or sport would remind them that they were good at something, that they did have talent and that they were valued as a team member.
For years, my husband and I felt like ping pong balls bouncing back and forth between a variety of fleeting passions our kids wanted to try.
Everything from diving and gymnastics to soccer and golf – as soon as we thought they had found the “one thing” they loved and would stick with, they oftentimes grew tired of it and moved onto the next thing.
Looking back, each of these experiences they had were important in their development. Each time they tried something new it meant they had to step out of their comfort zone which gave them more confidence, they were able to meet new kids, and from time to time, they even faced failure when they found they simply weren’t cut out for a specific sport or hobby.
As my kids grew older, though, my early goal of helping them find an activity, sport or hobby they enjoyed, evolved into a full-blown mission to help them find their passion in life. As cliché’ as it sounds, I wanted to awaken their full potential.
In a world so hyper-focused on cognitive ability recognized by grades, test scores and GPA’s, which of course are all important, isn’t it equally as important to dive deeper into our kids’ true passions to blend what they need to know with what they’d love to know?
Wouldn’t it be amazing as parents, if we could unleash our child’s full potential by inspiring them to dream, unlocking their innovation and capitalizing on their creativity? How would it feel knowing that your child is attending college not only to gain the necessary knowledge to have a successful (and hopefully lucrative) career but also, at the same time, following their passion and dream?
With the average student spending nearly 1,000 hours in the classroom a year and countless hours on homework, it seems nearly impossible as kids become older and demands grow higher to even find time to follow a passion let alone seek out what their passion might be.
Throughout your child’s life, their interests will change dramatically. Certain passions they held when they were young will fade into the distance replaced with something new. You might even find that months or even years pass by and it appears your child has little passion for anything at all. However, once your child begins to mature, you may begin to see a pattern; a passion or interest that doesn’t seem to fade quite as quickly as those in the past.
Many experts agree that how your child spends their free time are clues that could unlock the key to their future.
Does your son spend every waking hour of his time on the computer gaming? Is your daughter totally infatuated with the latest fashions spending every ounce of free time sifting through fashion magazines and articles looking for the latest trend? Are your child’s walls in their bedroom covered with posters of airplanes or beautiful destinations they’d love to visit one day? Do you have a boy who loves football so much that he’d sleep in his uniform if you let him? What inspires them? What television shows do they enjoy watching? What grabs their imagination?
Like a private investigator seeking clues to a mystery, the answers to these questions are hidden signs that reveal something important about your child…their passion.
The key is to take that passion or interest and shape your child’s educational goals around it. Ideally, the best educational goals are those that take into consideration not only your child’s passion and talents but also those that offer value to the world.
Perhaps the child who spends every waking moment keeping up with the latest fashion trends now transforms that passion into a goal. Rather than watching to see what the next fashion trend is, she aspires to become a fashion designer who creates the next hottest fashion trend.
You know the boy who drives you crazy by spending far too much gaming? What if he shaped his education around learning how to design video games, computer programming or learning everything about the inner workings of a computer in hopes of becoming a computer hardware engineer one day? And, the boy who loves football more than food…what if he was inspired to become a sports announcer, a sports journalist or focused his career goals around sports medicine?
Helping your child find their true passion begins by opening the door of opportunity through experiential learning, meaning the opportunity to “learn through experience.” Give your child the chance to be around and experience what they love, to meet people in a profession that coincides with their passion, or experience first-hand what it would be like for them to work in an environment that truly interests them.
Center their interests and dreams around focused learning experiences by encouraging them to take classes in key focus areas, finding a summer internship in their area of interest, shadowing someone in the industry for a day, talking with college professors or chatting with students who are majoring in the area they have interest in.
It’s important to recognize, though, that even with diligent effort and guidance, helping your child find the one passion that will burn brightly throughout their entire life may not be such as easy task. In fact, there’s a possibility it may never happen at all. Some kids are simply more free-spirited destined to a life floating from one passion or interest to another, while others are more fervent learners seeking every bit of information they can about a particular subject.
Either way, at some point, typically their second or third year of college, they’ll be challenged to choose a direction academically. With up to 50 percent of kids entering college undecided, it’s up to us as parents, to guide our kids by helping them embrace their inherent interests and shaping those interests into viable and prolific careers that blend their passion with skills and industry demand.
In the United States alone there are 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent of whom feel no real connection to their jobs or careers. Reality is a choice. The lessons we teach, the guidance we give and the confidence we instill in our kids today hold the power to impact not only our kids’ passion for learning but also their career choice down the road and potentially their future happiness.
When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that’s when passion is born.
~ Zig Ziglar