3 Ways to Help Find Your Child’s Bent
My 19 yo turned me onto this song called “Little Boxes” the other day.
It reminded me of my own public high school experience. One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that it offers such a great opportunity to avoid being like everyone else. Although, all parents can still fall into this same trap within the homeschool community. Constantly comparing your kids with others and trying to do what everyone else is doing is an easy trap to fall into. Don’t ask me how I know. 🙂
Malvina Reynolds was an activist who released this song in 1967. She sang against the assembly line style of manufacturing and the building of shoddy cookie-cutter tract houses. But the theme of the song speaks to all the problems with uniformity in a society. Take a listen.
One thing I have learned over the last 16 years of homeschooling is that putting kids in boxes is a lot like trying to put a cat in water. It is no fun. For either of you. But there is one caveat, and that is finding your child’s bent.
I remember years ago when our kids were little, one girlfriend forced her daughter to take piano lessons. I totally disagreed at the time because her daughter vehemently didn’t want to. However, after half a dozen years, her daughter plays beautifully. Really beautifully. What a missed opportunity if she had not learned.
At the other end of the spectrum, I had another girlfriend that didn’t push her kids to do anything, even things that could be considered academic. If they didn’t want to do it, well then, they just didn’t have to. Now as they are approaching the teen years, I see a lack of motivation for anything.
So I do see a happy medium in this. What the song stirred in me though, is that trying to do what everyone else is doing, isn’t the answer either.
3 ways to help find your child’s bent:
1– There is a secret sauce! And that is that you, the leader of your home(school) or the leader of your children, must have enthusiasm. Beyond enthusiasm; really, you must have zeal. My pastor describes zeal as being so enthusiastic about something that it makes another person eager to do it too.
I unknowingly got my kids excited about the craziest, sometimes seemingly insignificant things because I was enthusiastic… Whether it was a field trip to a police station, going to the park, joining a gavel club, or even groceries (one of my least favorite things to do). The more excitement I show, the more excited we all are. Your kids just get caught up in the excitement like osmosis. They are going to join a speech club no matter what, so why not enjoy the process!
2– Encourage your kids to try many different things until you can see some sort of pattern. For example, my oldest tried art. It wasn’t until many art classes and various artistic opportunities later that I could see a talent and a passion for all things creative from photography, urban exploration, and graphic design. Over the last couple of years, she began being paid for these endeavors! She even created and produced the video of my new book, Alphabet Smash. How cool is that?!?!
Allow freedom, space, and especially unlimited time for these pursuits. I could see she lost track of time when doing artistic ventures.
Now as a recent homeschool graduate, she is pursuing an art major. No surprises here.
Finding one’s bent doesn’t have to be expensive either. Consider trading classes, putting on your own play (like the one below), finding someone to mentor your child, or someone for your child to shadow.
My middle daughter saw Annie at a local community college when she was four years old. We we got home, she watched our VHS copy of Annie in a standing position in front of the TV for almost 2 hours straight with her eyes glued on that screen. I couldn’t talk her into sitting down. She was fascinated. Many classes and attempts later… performing, theater, and film acting are her passion. And although I do not know what God has in store for her, I fully believe He will use these talents He gifted her for His glory.
Now, my youngest is still young, and I haven’t quite gotten her figured out yet, but I do know one thing. She has always
liked adored animals.
These bents didn’t always jump off the page. Sometimes it is a slow progression of trying different things and allowing time for kids to figure this out on their own. The journey to getting to know yourself is fun. One thing is for sure. No one wants to be in a little box.
3– Pray that God would show you the gifts he has given your kids so that you can pray for them, encourage them, and start using them!
1 Timothy 4:14 ESV Do not neglect the gift you have…