Understanding your child’s interests and curiosities
During one of the career guidance talks organised as a part of a career expo in Kozhikode, I was addressing a group of more than 600 people who have just graduated from reputed high schools along with their parents. I engaged a very interactive audience but their answers left me staggered. My questions were along the following lines:
“What brings you to this career expo?’….
What are your interests?
What drives you to choose a career?
Are you keen on doing a degree in the selected fields?
What are your values?
The answers in almost all cases were uncertain, unsure or we were told so.
This made me ponder. I was talking to a bunch of 18 year olds who have not been able to clearly identify and define their interests and values though most of them must have done exceptionally well in curricular and co-curricular activities at their schools and must have learnt value education all through their adult school life.
It was truly alarming to learn that children had to depend on external sources to decide what they want to do in their life. Whom are we going to blame for this scenario?
Children? Parents? Community? Friends? System? Teachers?
Blaming anyone is not a mature act. How long are we going to blame someone or something for what we want and what we want of our children? Don’t you think it is high time to help our children identify his/her interests and we, as parents and mentors, are more equipped to shoulder this responsibility.
Our children spend a lot more time with the outside world and build or develop in them some traits which we as parents can observe in very close quarters. We understand their interests, values, commitment, and skills he or she excels in. This informal but important dialogue that happens in a setting most comfortable called home should give us pointers to what our child can do and excel in.
In my previous article, we discussed the importance of raising children with high self-esteem. Children with high self-esteem have always shown enhanced initiative, creativity, mutual respect and pleasant feelings towards friends and family which opens the doors for exploring different things that escalate their curiosity and interests. These traits are the keys to the kingdom of a successful child.
As parents, we should engage in our child’s interests and expand these interests to constructive projects and long term goals. This exercise should not begin when our children are on the verge of choosing a career for themselves but right at the early childhood days.
Children with strong inhibitory control abilities can sit quietly, stay focused on the task at hand, think before they act, and behave in other appropriate ways. Social and emotional skills help a child make friends, share, participate in classroom discussions, and like inhibitory control, can help a child experience fewer classroom behavior challenges.
It is important to understand child development and to recognise each child’s individual characteristics and cultural background when planning learning activities that enable children to “make sense of their world.”
Children develop the skills necessary to solve real life problems and become better prepared to think for themselves when they are exposed to experiences that:
1) Spark interest and curiosity
2) Integrate learning experiences
3) Structure their thinking
As children gain confidence in their ability to reason, check, build connections, make representations, and communicate their ideas with others, they assume more responsibility for their own thinking. All this is necessary early on in each child’s life and not at the outset of choosing a possible career.
Children may spend up to 75 percent of classroom time learning through listening.
While hearing is one of the five senses, learning how to actively listen takes practice and can also be a foundational skill for literacy and language development. Children’s thinking evolves as they construct an understanding of people, objects, and real life experiences.
“Interest is the only emotion that can sustain long-term constructive or creative endeavors,” explains the psychologist Sylvan Tomkins. Without interest there is no curiosity, no exploration and no real learning.
Many parents express their concerns about the limited range of their child’s interests and about their child’s inability to sustain interest towards important goals. I am often told, for example, “He’s not interested in reading (or writing, or drawing or riding a bicycle).” These parents experience frustration at their unsuccessful efforts, with any form of cajoling, rewards or punishments, to broaden their child’s interests. If we look hard enough, we will find in every child, no matter how “unmotivated” he/she seems to be, some interest--and a desire to do well.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)