Summer! The Season for Sampling
In the past, children played sports, learned instruments, and participated in activities to learn a skill, have fun, and even keep themselves busy. Yet today, parents are feeling the pressure to get their young children involved in extracurricular activities fresh out of toddlerhood to “keep up.” Then when the child deviates from the chosen activity, parents begin to worry. Their child may beg to join a sport one day, only to ask to quit a few weeks in. And what if your thirteen-year-old declares they no longer want to play soccer after playing for a decade? What about a future scholarship?!
What if you allowed your child to settle into a season of sampling rather than specializing in one area? Instead of solidifying your child's future in one or two pursuits, what if we embraced a more generalized approach for our children?
What is sampling?
Sampling is a pursuit of various activities, sports, or hobbies that support self-exploration rather than specialization. Sampling allows for a child to dive into new areas and take risks towards avenues that may be unfamiliar, with the sole purpose of finding out if it is a right fit.
How do they know if they don't try?
What are the benefits of sampling?
Allows children to dabble with interests (test ideas and reflect on learning)
Supports self-exploration and discovery of likes/interests/strengths
Choice leads to fulfillment and ownership in decision
Encourages perseverance through intrinsic motivation
Provides an appropriate level of difficulty (focus/sustained attention)
Builds a library of various skills, knowledge, and experiences
Improves resiliency, adaptation, and acceptance of mistakes
Develops comfortability in the discomfort of the unknown
Enhances problem-solving skills
How often do people choose stability over fulfillment when a career change could lead to a better quality of life? Imagine if Vincent Van Gogh, known to the world as a painter, had stuck with one career path? Before picking up a paintbrush at the age of 27, Van Gogh was an art dealer, school teacher, and preacher. We see examples of sampling in everyday life, whether through trying out new hobbies, changing majors in college, or leaving one career for another. Giving our children time and space to pursue various interests instills a lifelong mindset to learn and evolve. Sampling can help children develop the grit it takes to persevere through obstacles along the way and can lead to a rich life full of growth and development through pursued passions.
"The challenge we all face is maintaining the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyper-specialization." David Epstein
For a deeper discussion on this topic, check out David Epstein's book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, on Amazon or watch his TedTalk. Then, join us on the next post when we dive deeper into conversation starters to help your child determine what pursuits they'd like to go for and what signs to look for when it may be time to move on.
Written by Jenny Aguilar (M. Ed., ET/P) and Geneva Walsh (M. Ed.)
Epstein, D. (2019). Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. Penguin