3 Enriching Hobbies to Expand Your Child’s Horizons
By: Guest Blogger, Maria Cannon
If you’re like many parents, you worry about overburdening your children. Kids need a chance to be kids, after all, and too many extracurriculars leave both you and your children overworked and overstressed. However, shunning extracurriculars isn’t the answer either. Rather, it’s all about finding the right balance between structured activities and fun. That’s where enriching hobbies come in.
Hobbies aren’t just about boosting your child’s college applications. When a child is invested in a hobby, she has an area where she can set goals, solve problems and make decisions independently. That makes hobbies a powerful tool for developing self-esteem and discipline. Hobbies also help kids build meaningful friendships and find a sense of community. And, if that isn’t enough, the right hobby can also strengthen growing minds. If brighter, more confident kids are your goal, here are three hobbies to try.
Playing an Instrument
According to PBS Parents, music education develops language skills, improves spatial intelligence and increases test scores and IQ. It doesn’t matter what instrument your child plays, the mere act of reading, playing and listening to music stimulates growing minds. When children get old enough to start playing with a school band or with friends, playing an instrument also becomes a tool for learning teamwork skills and making friends.
Mastering the basics of an instrument is the most frustrating stage and when learners are most likely to give up. The best way to get past the learning curve is by enrolling in lessons. But first, you’ll need to buy an instrument. While instrument rentals are available, renting for an entire year can be more expensive than buying. You can always resell an instrument or donate it to the school if your child loses interest.
While your instincts might tell you that classical instruments like the piano or violin are best for intellectual development, the instrument of choice matters less than picking an instrument your child can stick with. If she’s interested in joining the school band, consider buying a band instrument like a clarinet, flute or saxophone.
There are many ways to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering, and math from a young age. You can do fun at-home science experiments, become naturalists in your own backyard, or use Lego to introduce engineering concepts. As kids get older, they can get into geocaching to hone map-reading skills and knowledge of the natural world, start coding their own games and apps or learn to build simple machines and robots. The possibilities for exploration are endless, and you can add a social element by signing kids up for STEM summer camps.
Joining a Sport
If your kid simply has too much energy for indoor hobbies, sports might be the right choice. Sports are more than a way to burn energy and stay physically healthy. They’re also a powerful tool for teaching discipline, dedication, and teamwork. According to one University of Kansas study, those are lessons that translate to the classroom, leading to higher test scores and graduation rates among student-athletes.
Team sports are one of the easiest hobbies for kids to get into. You can find Saturday morning soccer and tee-ball in nearly every community. When kids are young, there’s no need to be skilled at the sport. And, because kids make fast friends in team sports, parents can reduce their own burden by teaming up with other parents for carpools to practice.
As a parent, it’s important to realize that not every hobby will stick. It’s normal for kids to grow bored of a few hobbies before landing on one that keeps their interest. Rather than forcing a specific hobby, encourage your child to find the activities that ignite her passions. It’s when kids are truly engaged and absorbed that their spirit and intellect shine.
Author: Maria Cannon, Hobbyjr.org ©2018
Maria Cannon has struggled with anxiety and depression for years and she believes her hobbies (some old ones and picking up a few new ones along the way) have played a huge role in helping her maintain her mental health. She encourages everyone to pursue their hobbies not only for relaxation and enjoyment but for psychological wellness as well.