So, you’re starting to figure out what your kids are super interested in, maybe even passionate about. (If you’re not quite there yet, check out yesterday’s post for some inspiration.)
Now what? Where do you go with this information, and how do you help your kids dive deep into their interests without having to remortgage your house?
There are awesome opportunities tucked away in hidden places that you might not think about. You’ll have to be willing to do some research and log some miles on your car, but it’s totally worth it.
Hidden Treasures in Museums and Libraries
When I lived in NJ (Jenni speaking), we were members of the Newark Museum, and a few times a year, the museum offered inexpensive but awesome classes. One daughter, who was about eight at the time, took a jewelry making class.
The instructor would take the kids to a specific location in the museum where the kids would study a particular art form from a different time period and culture. Then they’d return to the classroom and make jewelry inspired by what they’d studied. The stuff they produced was way beyond anything she would have ever made at home. In fact, one of her pieces won second place at the county fair, and it was judged along with adult entries.
One of my sons took a digital photography class that trained his eye to look for art in the world around him. I remember one day in particular when the whole class went outside and spent the day photographing only shadows.
Another son, my resident scientist at the time, took a slime class. They spent the whole six week session making all kinds of polymers that they could play with.
Libraries can also have hidden opportunities. Some have teen knitting groups. Some offer master gardener classes or special guest speakers. Kids can learn all about bats or participate in an African music class or join a Lego club. Some libraries offer business help for young entrepreneurs or American Red Cross Babysitting Certification classes. One year, my daughter won a $50 gift certificate just for writing a winning book review through our local library.
Google Is Your Best Friend
You can find all sorts of treasures by simply making Google your best friend. So, let’s say you have a child interested in photography like I do (Jody speaking). Go to Google and search for local clubs, free workshops and photography studios that offer classes.
This summer one of my daughters is taking a few summer workshops at Ringling School of Art. What she has learned in these few weeks is irrefutably key to her future success as a photographer. She is also following bloggers who are experts in the field, mimicking their different styles and techniques and mastering her craft. This is one of the many ways to help your kids become experts in what they’re passionate about.
My other daughter was convinced she wanted to own a bakery. We found out that Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store offers cake decorating classes. So, for her birthday, the entire family bought her everything she needed to bake unique cakes and cupcake accessories and all the tools to create her own little bake shop, and my sister purchased the first round of classes for her.
It was one of the best things we ever did, and we all enjoyed her delectable desserts. Yes, I had to diet once she exhausted her passion for that field. But, what she learned was irreplaceable. She figured out that she loved to bake and make specialty desserts, but only for special occasions. This was NOT something she wanted to do for a living. Good thing we figured that out in middle school and not in business college!
Look for local stores that sell supplies for your child’s interest and see if they offer classes. My daughter (Jenni here) has her own henna tattoo business. She gets her supplies from a store in Orlando, which is about two hours from our house. Next month, we’re heading up there for a full day of henna classes to help her hone her skills. While she’s there, she plans to rub elbows with some other artists and find out new ways to get more business.
Oddly enough, Skyler’s whole henna business was birthed out of a desire to take an art class. She’s an artsy kid by nature, but she wasn’t satisfied with her drawing ability. That one class opened a whole new world for her. Check out her henna designs here.
Hidden Treasures in Your City
Do you have any historic societies or science centers in your community? Get on their mailing lists and find out what they’re doing. You might unearth some great treasures.
Does your city offer opera, orchestra, dance, live theater or bazaars? How about art shows? Are there galleries? What about restaurants (sometimes restaurant owners will let your kids tour the kitchen and make their own food).
Mark your calendar for the county fair and any other fairs your town might offer. Get people’s business cards, and see if they’ll let you visit their farm or work studio.
Experiences fuel passion, and the people who are living and breathing their craft are great resources for helping us give our kids specialized experiences. Which leads us to this…
Sailing on the Right Ships: Mentorships, Internships and Apprenticeships
Contact local zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and other specialized attractions in your area, and see if they offer official internship programs.
Find a professional in your child’s field of interest who will allow him to job shadow for a few days. If it goes well, talk to the person about possibly mentoring your child.
Jenni and I have done some pretty crazy things to get our kids to places so they can have an experience that will fuel their passion . . . but I think we’re called to do that.
When Chase, my oldest son, was in middle school, we knew he wanted to pursue a career in law and politics. Politics was not my specialty, but this boy couldn’t get enough of it. I knew I had to get him to places where he could learn first-hand what it was all about. So, with two little ones in tow, I drove ninety minutes each way for five days in a row to get him to our state capital in Springfield, IL so that he could participate in a week long camp that would teach him about our political system and allow him to network with representatives and senators in our home state.
Well, that laborsome effort definitely paid off. Out of that experience, Chase was given an opportunity to work for our senator during the summer (his office was only twenty minutes from us – whew!), page for him later at the capital and later campaign for a representative in Missouri. Well, that passion at 12 years old catapulted him into law school and has turned into a career placing him with a group of attorneys that bring awareness to the Federal Budget.
But these trips don’t have to be a total wash for mom and dad. When Jenni and I take her daughter Skyler up to Orlando next month for a day of henna boot camp, we’re going to spend the day at a nearby cafe with WiFi working on our keynote talks for a 2015 homeschool convention (and we’ll manage to squeeze in some fun too). But if you want to work at home, just make sure you have this Wi-Fi Router to get the best speeds.
Specialized summer camps can have a steep price tag, but they can be a great investment in your kid’s future. My daughter Skyler (Jenni speaking) wants to be a vocal recording artist. A number of top music schools offer intensive summer programs that will not only build skills and experience, but it will allow her to make valuable connections with working artists.
One of my sons wants to be a filmmaker in the military. The New York film academy offers middle and high schoolers camps with A-List producers, directors, screenwriters and actors.
There are excellent summer opportunities for nearly every interest.
We’re going to talk more about this and how to help your kids get into their first choice school this Saturday at 10:00AM on Parenting On Purpose With Jenni and Jody. We’ll be talking about how finding our kids’ passion is instrumental in preparing them for their future.
Sarasota locals can catch us on 1220AM, 106.9FM or 98.9FM, but anyone can listen in on live streaming on WSRQ or get directions to download a mobile app and listen on the go.