January is National Hobby Month! While many adults have found or adopted new home-based hobbies over the past two years, children’s activities have gone through several cycles of shut downs making fostering children’s hobbies a challenge.
While hobbies may seem like something reserved for adults on the weekends, they have great benefits for children! Hobbies can help foster children’s skills like: creativity, problem solving skills, critical thinking, bonding with friends, self-discipline, self-esteem, and more. While some children will hone in on a particular interest very early, more might need some help finding a hobby they truly enjoy. Here are some tips on how to get children started in finding and exploring new hobbies.
1. Make a List of Your Child’s Interests
Their interests could manifest in the toys they gravitate to, the TV shows or movies they ask to watch, or the things they ask loads of questions about. Use a page in your notebook or a note in your phone to track some things you notice your child getting excited about over the course of a few weeks. Discuss with them what they like and what they want to learn about. Sometimes it may seem like interests change quickly, but even keeping track in a small way may help you to spot a pattern.
2. Ask Other Adults in Their Life
Members of your extended family or your child’s teacher may have different insight on what your child gets excited about. Maybe they are excelling at something at school that happens early in the day. By the time you see them again, they want to recount the day’s most recent activity and you may not hear about the others. ChildWatch is a great tool for schools and day cares to communicate with parents about the activities children are doing on a daily basis; giving parents insight into what their child might get excited about.
3. Let Them Lead
As they try new things, discuss with your child what they really enjoy and what they don’t. Their interests may diverge greatly from yours. It’s important to help them follow what they are excited about even if it something unexpected or unfamiliar to you.
4. Help Them Build Resilience
Learning new things can be hard! Just the process of trying to learn something new or different can get frustrating and off-putting for children. Encourage them early on for each small step of progress. Get excited about what excites them. Help them find a class or way to practice that helps bring the fun. It can be a tricky balance to determine when a child wants to stop because they truly are uninterested, or feeling defeated. Discuss what makes them want to stop, listen and ask questions. Make sure they know that there is nothing bad about losing interest, AND share the benefits that come with continuing to try even when something seems challenging.
With some patience, experimentation, and perseverance, your child can find a that makes them light up!