Letting Kids Explore Their Interests

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

I held off on posting last Friday because of the significance of today

School started today…Finally!

In some ways, it’s a relief. I have a quiet home which means I can get my work done. But in other ways, it’s not a relief. There will be homework, after all, as well as early mornings. This morning went well, but if things continue the normal way for us, we experienced the calm before the storm today.

Summer was fun but short. I did learn a lot about the grands during that time, though.

When the kids first came to live with us, everyone kept asking me what activities they were doing. The question came with the strong implication that I should enroll them in everything. Keep them moving at all times. At first, I felt guilt over not doing that, but let’s face it, we needed time to adapt.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…Psalms 46:10a

Why do people feel the need to fill a child’s day with activity from dawn until dusk? I didn’t see the sense in it.

Eventually, I signed them up for gymnastics. Victoria showed a great interest in it and was already turning perfect cartwheels, so it felt like the right way to go. I signed Amari up, too, because once he saw the gym and the children in a class, he wanted in.

People have pushed me to put them in various activities:  basketball, swimming, football, soccer, etc. With Victoria’s height–she’s now taller than me–everyone pushed hard for basketball and swimming. This summer, I decided we’d try a few of these activities in short spurts. The YMCA offers one-week day camps in the summer focused on a specific sport. I signed Amari up for basketball, football, and soccer and Victoria for basketball, volleyball, and baseball.

Victoria hated it. Amari loved it.

When my kids were little, people didn’t push me to sign them up for anything. I listened to their interests and followed that lead. If I listened to other people, Victoria would be frustrated every day. She hates competitive sports. She enjoyed the games but only when she wasn’t forced to play. She wants to play for fun, not as a team.  Amari enjoyed the camps, but he needs individual attention that he didn’t get in the camps. Plus, I’ve noticed that most team sports use up most of your afternoons and evenings. Amari needs his rest. If he’s not in bed by a certain time, everyone pays for it the next day. We’re going to wait a few years, and see about Amari’s interest in sports, then.

We, also, tried a few educational, but fun, camps at the local science center. Victoria begged to do the Lego camps, so I signed her up for two of them: MazeBots and SumoBots. She hated MazeBots with a passion. She anticipated building things with the Legos. They did, but they spent most of their time programming. She was sooooooo bored.  Amari took Candy Art one week and Kitchen Chemistry the next. He was disappointed that they didn’t cook.  FYI, Victoria wanted to do cooking classes, too. Unfortunately, the cooking classes weren’t offered at a time convenient to our schedules this summer.

We hit the jackpot with the last week of camp. Victoria participated in a Harry Potter camp (I’ll blog about that in my other blog next week), and Amari took an Animal Habitat camp. Both camps incorporated science in a fun way. Both played into the way these two kids’ brains are wired. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

So, now I know. Victoria is not into sports except gymnastics for fun. Amari loves sports but needs time to focus. They both love nature and science and working with their hands.

In the Proverbs verse at the beginning of this post, we’re directed to bring children up in the way they should go. You can’t look at a child and base that decision on their physical appearance. You need to pay attention to what they enjoy, to the things that drive their curiosity, the things they talk about. Now, I have a good idea what that is

And I didn’t spend an entire school year struggling through something they hated to find this out.

I’d call that a win-win!

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Summer: A Time for Relaxation? Nope!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

A person plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 

Summer days are coming to an end. The temps are still in the 90s, but school starts in a little over a week. This summer taught me a lot about my grandkids. It, also, taught me that I still haven’t found the right balance between my work schedule and summer fun. Somehow, without homework to stress us out in the evenings, I’ve managed to stay as stressed, if not more stressed, over our summer schedules.

Since I’m self-employed, I work flexible hours. Figuring out when those hours might occur can be a challenge. I need to work during the summer, which means I need the kids to participate in a day camp in order to give me the time I need. Summer day camps are expensive, and you need to enroll the kids long before summer arrives. Many programs fill up before March, so you have to be quick about it.

In other words, I had to guess when I might have work.

Of course, some events were already on my schedule, but others came up later. I turned a few things down because I didn’t have childcare arranged on those days. You might wonder why I didn’t enroll the grands for something every single week. Summer tends to be a slow season in the training industry. I needed to make sure I brought in more money than I spent in childcare. It’s not an exact science. I did the best I could. Some weeks went beautifully, but others? Wow! Worn out doesn’t begin to describe it.

But here we are with one more week before the schedules go back to normal. In a way I’m relieved. In other ways, I’m sad. I would love to have a few more weeks to kick back and relax.

But who am I kidding? If we had a few more weeks, they’d probably be slammed with me trying to manage a work schedule around some weekly camp activity!

I guess it’s a good thing I don’t get to choose when school starts and ends.  For now, I’ll enjoy the next week:  no school, no work, no camps. Of course, we’re not done with the school clothes and supply shopping, yet.

Oh well.

In the Way They Should Go

 Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

I’ve heard this verse from Proverbs quoted in relation to raising children numerous times. Last year, one of our ministers preached about this verse and explained it’s often applied incorrectly. He said the original Hebrew does not refer to faith in this verse. It refers to helping them discover their gifts and talents. In other words, help them find out what they’re good at and they will pursue that in their later years.

That makes sense to me, although it’s a bit disappointing when this verse has given hope to many parents, myself included, with wayward grown children.

Nevertheless, this task is an interesting one with the grandkids.

We’re celebrating Amari’s seventh birthday this weekend! He was four when he came to live with us. So much has changed over the years, and he’s grown a lot. Just today, I was facing the fact that most of his shorts don’t fit. I’d forgotten about those years where they grow faster than their “Carters wear out.” Of course, when I can I buy in consignment sales, but I’m learning that there’s less available for boys in those stores. Not only that, but boys’ clothes don’t seem to go on sale as much as girls’ clothes. Why is that? Add his interest in playing basketball and football, and his clothes really take a beating (which is why I think consignment stores have fewer boys’ clothes).

He definitely has interests and talents. This summer he’s developed an avid interest in reading. Nothing makes me happier than to go looking for him only to find him engrossed in a book. I read a LOT. I mean really a LOT. My kids were readers but not like me. All signs indicate the reading bug has bitten him. But he also loves math and is quick with his numbers. His mind is so curious, and his questions about everything, including God, keep me hopping.

As for his sister, she finished grade school this year and is headed to middle school in the fall. Last night, I realized that she has grown another inch and is my height (5’6″). She grew three inches over the last school year and another inch in the last month! The doctor says she’s going to be at least 5’10”, but I’m wondering if that estimate is a bit low.  Because of her height, everyone tries to push her toward basketball, volleyball, or swimming. No one has mentioned running yet, but she’s all legs. The thing is, she’s not interested in playing competitive team sports. She does gymnastics, yes even with her height, and she’s very good at it. But she’s still only interested in it as a hobby.

Victoria loves science and art. In fact, she won her school science fair this year and received an Honorable Mention at the district level. She likes to read but would rather be crafting something. My biggest battle with her is getting her to leave things in the trash. She wants to save every cereal box, scrap of paper, and empty lotion bottle to use in her crafts. I replaced her comforter this year because the old one had a rip in it. Before I could do something with it, she cut it up and started using it to make things.

So, there you have it. They are growing and we continue to try to nurture who they are. We’re headed for the teenage years with Victoria. You know that’s going to be so much fun!