kids with "unbalanced interests" - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 07-18-2013, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
Fillyjonk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 824
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)

Ok I'm wondering this on quite a philosophical level right now. I need to say I'm not worried about this, I'm more pondering it. Dp and I have been talking about it a lot of late and I'm trying to get my ideas sorted.

 

What I'm trying to decide is, to what extent is it ok for kids to have quite, for want of a better word, one-sided interests?

 

My son, for example. is and has always been extremely geeky. He loves computers, sci fi, fantasy, claymation, electronics, programming. He IS social, he doesn't tend to spend long periods of time on the computer or in front of the tv, he has good outdoors and cooking etc skills, and he IS very physically active indeed, so that's not a concern. He's not massively opposed to learning about other things, and has a decent knowledge of history and Latin, but they are not where his heart lies. So for us, it would be totally doable to give him  "balanced" exposure to lots of things, like lots of arts subjects as well as the science. There are ways to do it that he'd find mildly interesting, but just less interesting than the alternatives.  The other alternative is to let him completely follow his own interests, to not really even try to engage him with more arty stuff, to even encourage him specifically in the areas he really loves, and let him be pretty one-sided in some ways. 

 

I think, right now, he's happiest when there is a clear science thing going on. What I'm wondering about, (quite idly really, since he's actually away camping this week) is how this pans out. Whether a kid who is encouraged to follow their interests very intensely, to the end, is ultimately happy or whether ultimately they feel they've missed something big.

 

And for us there's a level on which this is highly philosophical because I have three kids and so intense exposure to one area is not going to be happening anyway...I'm really just trying to get my thoughts in order. Any musings or ideas or comments welcome! 

 

I'm also struggling to articulate this but I don't really mean follow interests in the sense of unschooling vs not. Whatever we did he'd be doing what he wanted at the end of the day. Its more about what we communicate as being important as a family-not least because, tbh, dp and I mostly share his interests, as does his middle sister (and the youngest isn't old enough to care too much) and it would be the easiest thing in the world for us to just do nothing but science and music and camping and cooking. I guess I partly wonder if we should be offering more balanced role models.


Raising Geek_Generation_2.0 :LET ds= 10 ; LET dd1= ds - 2; LET dd2=dd-2; IF month=0.67 THEN LET ds = ds+1; 
Fillyjonk is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 07-19-2013, 10:20 AM
 
ian'smommaya's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: In the apothecary working with the fae.
Posts: 4,071
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

As far as role modeling I don't think you can be all things to all people. I role modeling some things really well to d.s. Others, not so much. And as to the interests lye, really IMO, people do best when they are introduced to things outside their realm but allowed to dive full on into their bliss, whatever that is.
 


Visit the Holiday Helper thread and join in on the giving and fun! Loving and working with the plants. I have a store! or two!
ian'smommaya is offline  
Old 07-19-2013, 12:03 PM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 5,808
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 95 Post(s)

I've been thinking about this question ....

 

I was an arts-and-humanities-focused kid all the way through childhood and adolescence, and then at 18 dived into pre-med science and became a doctor. My brother went through his teens as an obsessed violinist, graduated from a university violin performance program, landed a good orchestral job and then ditched it all to go into architecture and business. We were both successful in our new ventures, and not really hampered by missing out on years of preparation.

 

So both of us had one-sided interests all through childhood and adolescence and young adulthood and did not find that at all limiting when we totally changed focus. That's one of the typical fears when you see a child with narrowly focused interests: what if it doesn't work out? what if his interests change? will this have been a waste? will there have been too many missed opportunities to go successfully in different directions? In fact, in some ways my brother and I credit being relatively ignorant and inexperienced with some of the success we found in our new areas of interest -- we were coming to it all entirely fresh, with the enthusiasm borne of new discovery. We weren't already half burnt out and jaded with respect to our new areas of interest. I look at my eldest daughter now, who has been entirely focused upon becoming a violinist since the age of 13 or 14, and I think she'd manage if she suddenly came down with rheumatoid arthritis and had to quit music or something. I mean, she'd be devastated at first, of course, but she'd eventually tackle something else with the confidence and learning skills she has developed through music, and she'd do well. 

 

I think there were two factors that helped ensure that my brother and I were not limited by our narrow focus and that those unexplored doors were still open to us. One was that we had the most basic of prerequisites in hand -- literacy, numeracy, critical thinking ability, interpersonal skills. In our case this was due in part to having been in school but I'd be hard-pressed to imagine an unschooling scenario uncomplicated by social deprivation, mental health issues or significant learning disabilities that wouldn't ensure the basic prerequisites were in hand. 

 

The other factor is possibly even easier to solidify in a narrowly focused unschooling style education: we had confidence in our ability to tackle challenging work and solve problems creatively on our way to success. We had a strong belief in our ability to excel. Our "I'm good at music" confidence didn't have a "and that's lucky because I suck at math and science" flip-side. We grew up believing that we were smart and capable and had simply chosen to put our abilities to work in the arts, but could probably succeed at almost anything. 

 

I think that if that's the prevailing self-concept you see at work in your child, a narrow focus is just fine. 

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
moominmamma is online now  
Old 07-19-2013, 07:07 PM
 
Piglet68's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
Posts: 10,977
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

The other factor is possibly even easier to solidify in a narrowly focused unschooling style education: we had confidence in our ability to tackle challenging work and solve problems creatively on our way to success. We had a strong belief in our ability to excel. Our "I'm good at music" confidence didn't have a "and that's lucky because I suck at math and science" flip-side. We grew up believing that we were smart and capable and had simply chosen to put our abilities to work in the arts, but could probably succeed at almost anything. 

 

I love this.

 

I have kids with pretty narrow interests as well. DS is more limited in his interests that DD. They are both bright kids, started reading at a very young age, and I'm pretty confident that should they find it necessary to do so, they could successfully apply themselves to any subject and do well at it. Whether now as kids or later in life as adults.

 

I will say that last year I began implementing a math program. I was not comfortable with how far behind they were in their math skills, which wasn't due to any lack of ability but simply an almost total lack of use and practice. There were other factors involved in my decision, however (they are both on the autism spectrum and it was an experiment in tolerance for the "new and not necessarily desired" as well as a way to introduce routine into their week), and despite being happy with my choice to do so, I am also 100% confident that if they never did a drop of math and suddenly decided one day they needed it for something, they could pick it up quite readily. 


teapot2.GIF Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)  ribbonjigsaw.gif blogging.jpg homeschool.gif

Piglet68 is offline  
Old 07-20-2013, 10:00 AM
 
Emaye's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: between beauty and beast
Posts: 623
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think children who are passionate and driven about one thing can turn their passion and drive towards a different goal with little trouble. The by product of allowing children to focus on and pursue their interest is that they learn about the kind of hard work and commitment it takes to succeed. They know how to hang on, to struggle, to fail. These are important. But beyond all that, the fact that they understand what it is like to love what they are doing gives them a huge advantage as adults when trying to build fulfilling lives.

For my family, one of the greatest benefits of unschooling is, it gives kids the time and the freedom to explore whatever they are interested in to their hearts' content. Hopefully along the way, among other things, they learn how to live purposefully.

As their mom I do my best to expose them to a variety of things just so they know the range of possibilities out there. I prod them to try new things. I don't necessarily allow them give up on something before giving it a real chance. In the end though, they are free to walk away and pick something else up. There is a delicate balance there and I am not always good at it but I am getting better smile.gif

I view my kids as very privileged to live the kinds of lives they are living. It is important to me that, along the way, they understand their personal life circumstances are probably some of the most privileged in the world.
Emaye is offline  
Old 07-20-2013, 10:22 AM
 
Piglet68's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
Posts: 10,977
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

he fact that they understand what it is like to love what they are doing gives them a huge advantage as adults when trying to build fulfilling lives.
 

 

This is so true, and so important for all of us to remember, whose children are allowed to pursue their passions without restrictions. 

 

One thing I never worry about is that my kids will end up stuck in a dead-end, mind-numbing job that they hate. They are too used to experiencing the joy of doing what you love. They would never settle for that. 


teapot2.GIF Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)  ribbonjigsaw.gif blogging.jpg homeschool.gif

Piglet68 is offline  
 

Tags
Unschooling
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off