When and how did you discover your interests? Was it in a class with a special teacher? Did one of your parents take you along on weekends to go hiking or to museums?
At Armada, we believe in young people becoming comprehensive and having the time and space to develop their own unique interests.
When Felix showed interest in game design and fantasy worlds, Brendan and he created the Never Ending World Game to really delve into the details of game design. In a traditional school, you have to wait for rare assignments where you can choose your own topic to get a chance to experiment and research something you're actually interested in.
We encourage parents and educators to help their kids to discover what they truly love. Here are four of our favorite ideas and methods to do so:
1. Dabble Deeply
A lot of parents are tempted to limit their kids' whims and interests for many reasons. You might want your kid to stick with something so that they become good at it. You might want to save money and not give in to each passing whim of theirs. But this is contrary to your kids' true nature. Kids are natural dabblers and endlessly curious. They want to try out everything at least once.
Saying yes to when your kid wants to pursue a new interest or quit an old one is essential to letting them find what is truly interesting to them. Didn't like piano? Okay, how about junior lifeguards? Too sandy... what about clay sculpture? Supporting your kids in their dabbling will help the whole family be healthy and happy. No more forcing kids to do things they hate and arguments about piano lessons. Giving enough time and space to dabble deeply will allow a kid to see if they truly like something or not.
Creativity is intelligence having fun! Through natural play kids gain confidence and discover the best of themselves.
Modern children are scheduled with lessons in each of their interests. However, free play in different areas actually allows children to creatively engage in their interests and be themselves. Play helps children develop autonomy to make their own positive decisions as they enter their teens as well.
We love the book, The Power of Play, by David Elkind that cites cutting-edge research to make the case for supporting imaginative play for children's development.
3. She'll never know until she tries
A lot of kids and adults think they are interested in something, but never take the time to try it out. We tend to think, I'd love to write a book, if only I had time. The thing is, you have to take the time to try it out before you know if you truly love something or not!
Especially with kids who are often rushing from school to extracurricular activities to homework, they need to try and actually engage in their interests before they know if they like it or not. And rarely do we give kids time to do this.
Many kids and young people think they're interested in things like fashion or video game design or music production, but they aren't allowed to try out their areas of interest until they are 18 years old. At Armada, we think differently. We believe that if a young person has the personal will to try something new, we want to support them the whole way and really try it out.
For instance, when Felix recently expressed interest in architecture, we began to reach into our networks and find ways to support him. So far, we've been able to visit Ballistic Architecture Machine, a landscape architecture firm in Beijing and New York and talk with architect Mary Denman.
4. You don't need to understand it for it to be something amazing
Okay so maybe your kid is super into something you don't understand, like making YouTube videos of themselves beat-boxing.
Think about the early days of computers, do you think Steve Jobs' parents knew the importance of the mess of electronics he was working on in the garage? Probably not.
The thing is that most jobs that kids of the future will have don't even exist today.
Even if you don't see your kids interest turning into a career path, it's still important to let them develop their passions and expertise. Even if they don't end up becoming a beat-boxing wizard, trying new and unusual ideas is part of an entrepreneurial spirit that will be essential to thriving in the 21st century and beyond.
These are just a few of the ways we love to help kids discover their interests. If you found this useful, please share on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or e-mail it to your friends!
Learning at Armada is truly different and helping young people discover their interests is just one of the ways we separate ourselves from traditional schools. Your kids are multi-passionate, clever and curious, and we want to help your kids learn in a way that allows these natural drives to flourish.