Children, these days, can only be described by one word – driven. After a full day at school, they have the energy and passion to wholly immerse themselves into an hour or so of their favourite hobby (or hobbies), without a whimper about being tired. Literally ‘driven’ too, as every mum will vouch for, sitting behind the steering wheel, glaring at a schedule of back-to-back after-school classes!
Very simply put, having a hobby is a good thing. If you are good at what you like to do - even better; and if you can make a profession out of what you love doing – just perfect! A sign of changing times is how parents recognize the importance of personal fulfilment and self expression through a hobby and wholeheartedly encourage it. Our own experience and extensive research has proved that hobbies are not only necessary for development of social skills but also mental and intellectual stimulation.
With each hobby being typically individualistic, the resources and guidance required also differs vastly. In sports for example coaching has to be done on the field, with all required infrastructure in place. Dance and music on the other hand, can be taught individually in your own home or in a group a classroom setting. The investment in materials also varies in proportion to the level of expertise you have or may want to achieve. Each activity also has a minimum age limit and different techniques for children at different ages. Keep these points in consideration and ask the right questions when signing your child up for a hobby class, to be able to get the most out of it.
How to encourage a hobby
Some children have hobbies without realizing it - they may enjoy painting, collecting toy models, or imitate teachers and their friends accurately. When children do not voice their interest themselves, parents need to tap into their interests discreetly and subsequently encourage them. But if you find no specific area of interest – leave it at that. Nothing could be more frustrating for a child than being pushed into after-school classes just because other children are going for them.
To help your child choose a hobby for fun, here are a few tips that may help:
1. Don't push your hobbies: Here’s a common mistake we all make – signing up our child for the guitar class WE always wanted to do! By all means, make suggestions and give options, but let kids choose their own interests. Don't verbalize your disappointment if they choose something different from what you feel would make a better hobby.
2. Match your child's interests: Show your interest and be supportive of their hobbies. If the hobby calls for coaching, check out the options of classes near you. Sometimes a child may be at a stage where she would like to pursue her interest by herself and may only need some materials to support her for eg, if she likes to cook, buy her a specialty cookbook and shop for interesting ingredients. Or if she enjoys collecting stamps, buy her a philately book to organize the collection.
3.Try something different: Introduce a new hobby as a birthday or festive gift. Sign him up for a trial guitar lesson. Register her for horseback riding. Attend art shows, dance performances or music concerts. In trying something completely different, your child may develop a taste for it or at least learn to be open to new experiences.
4.Share a hobby with them: Take an art or language class as a family. You will not only be spending quality family time doing fun things, you may actually develop an expertise in the activity you took up.
5. Invest to take it higher: If you find your child doing well in the activity of his or her choice, encourage her by purchasing supplies, memberships, or other support materials required to move her to the next higher level. Encourage them to compete, but be careful not to push them in this direction unless they want to do it for themselves.
6.Don’t give up: Hobbies are a great way for kids to learn new things. From kite building to song writing, encourage your children to experiment with a variety of interests until they settle on one they want to explore in greater detail.
– By Parul Ohri