Updated: Feb 24
A Continuation of Our Previous Post
For many of us, finding something we are interested in isn't always easy, and it can be quite the journey of searching for a place to land. Often it can take time to try new things, dabble in a hobby here and there, or work on a skill for a while, only to decide, perhaps it wasn't for us. Other times, we find something that we enjoy and have a natural talent for, leading to fulfillment for years (or even a lifetime). We invite you to read our Building Resilience Through Passionate Pursuits blog if you haven't already. We explain what it means to sample rather than specialize in interests, hobbies, and extracurriculars.
Specializing in a specific area can lead to a narrow field of knowledge or skill set.
Allowing your child to sample a variety of endeavors enhances their learning, providing a breadth of context for a range of experiences. Conversely, when a child adheres to only one activity, they may feel they can't look elsewhere because the unknown feels too abstract or unfamiliar. In addition, hyper-focusing on developing one skill can create fear of stepping into change.
If your child is unsure about what they'd like to sample, perhaps ask them some starter questions designed to be open-ended, inspire imagination, and lead to conversation. Share your answers as well!
How do you like to spend your free time?
What are some things you enjoy?
If you could volunteer anywhere, where would you like to go?
What are some things you'd like to learn?
Tell me a few skills you'd like to practice?
If you could create something, what would that be?
What sport or hobby would you like to practice?
If you could have three different careers, what would they be?
When do you feel like time passes quickly or you easily lose track of time?
Who could help answer your questions about xyz?
There is nothing inherently wrong with specialization, but it is a select few who hone in and excel in just one area. For the vast majority, sampling can serve us throughout our lives.
But what if they try something and want to quit? Quitting out of frustration and failure to persevere through a challenge should be avoided. However, there are signs of knowing when moving on to something new could be the next right thing for your child.
Personality does not match well
No interest or self-motivation
Little joy or passion
Causes extreme levels of stress or anxiety
Unable to balance other interests or responsibilities
If you notice a lack of interest or passion toward any specific pursuit, try asking your child some of these questions and invite a no-pressure conversation. If they're currently involved in something that isn't the right fit for them, reassure them that searching for their passionate pursuit is part of the journey! Whatever your child lands on, your support, guidance, and understanding will determine their mindset and approach toward finding their path throughout their life!
For parents of young athletes, here is an excellent article from Physical and Health Education Journal that outlines the benefits of sampling sports during childhood.
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