Ever notice that your kiddo doesn’t leave your side while you’re making dinner? Or can’t stop building with blocks? Maybe they spend hours doodling? Or they love examining little critters? Cooking, STEM, drawing, and biology are just a few interests in a world of activities that may excite and engage your child. Whether you share that interest, or it comes as a surprise, you as a parent can play a key role in identifying it, recognizing a talent, and honing your little one’s special skill.

Smiling boy standing in front of a water drawing board with markers in his hands.

Discovery

The first step is simple: watching your child as they play! And working remotely or spending more time at home is a great opportunity for doing just that. As you watch them during your work breaks or turn into their playmate, you can take note of how they play and what they play with. Do they have fun independently or do they prefer playing with you or a sibling? Are they gravitating towards calm and quiet activities or are they looking to run, jump, move, and groove? Do they reach for the drawing board or go for sports games? Observing your little one during unstructured play can help you identify what they spend most of their time enjoying and if they have a knack for it!

Encouragement

Once you get a good idea of where your child’s talent may lie, you can let them explore the many angles of a given activity and encourage them to creatively express themselves. Say you notice the fountain of smiles and giggles that bursts out of your little one every time they hold a musical instrument in their hands. You can then let them try out a variety of instruments to see which one they won’t let go of. Will they prefer pressing the black and white keys of a piano, strumming a guitar, or playing the drums? No matter what their interest or skill may be, validating it from time to time can also boost their confidence and encourage them to pursue it. A “you’re really good at this” can go a long way!

Smiling girl holding drumsticks in front of a frog-shaped drum set.
Smiling girl holding a paddle outside.

Development

As your kiddo grows up, you can continue supporting their interest and nurturing their talent by finding ways to practice and sharpen it. If your athlete in the making has taken a serious liking to tennis, for example, you can watch the Grand Slam tournaments, consult online resources, sign them up for classes, find them a coach, enter them in competitions, or practice in the backyard if you have a tennis enthusiast in the family. A fair amount of exposure, examples, role models, and expert training is what can move an interest from a hobby to a potential profession. And the key to developing a skill successfully is staying in tune with your kiddo to make sure they enjoy what they’re doing! So, involve them in the decision-making process when it comes to the level of commitment and don’t force them to keep going if they fall out of love with an activity. You’re guiding your child while they’re on the road, but ultimately, they’re the one in the driver’s seat!

If your child chooses to pursue a passion, then dedication, instruction, practice, and patience will likely help them reach their goals. But what’s also important to keep in mind is that progress counts more than perfection and accepting failure is just as important – if not more – as celebrating success!

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