If you ask my toddler what his favourite things are he will answer Hockey and Paw Patrol. He embraces both of these with the joy and abandon that toddlers are known for. But I don’t just want him to wear Calgary Flames pajamas and sleep on Paw Patrol bed sheets, I want him to truly connect with the things he loves on more than just a merchandising level.
This means diving deeper into the subjects and building on them.
Finding the Bones of the Subject
For hockey, the main foundation is ice skating. We take our 2.5 year old to public skating as often as we can so that he can build the most basic skill that hockey requires. My hope is that he will have the opportunity to use that skill later, if he chooses to play hockey. We also got him a mini stick and puck to practice stick handling.
If your child loves sports, work on running and jumping and physical activities that can condition their bodies. You can do these things long before they are old enough to join a team.
Even Toys and Videos hold Clues
Take notice about the details of their favourite shows and characters. Find out why they like them and what draws them in by talking about the different elements of the show.
For something like Paw Patrol, it is a great oppertunity to teach about Search and Rescue. You could take your toddler to your local police and fire stations and show them how their favourite television series translates to the real world. If it’s Dora, teach them about World Travel, map reading and using a compass. For Doc McStuffins you could visit animal shelters and veterinary clinics, or teach them how first aid kits work.
Got a super hero fan? Maybe he or she is an artist! Try drawing your own comics with them and teach them about where super heroes originally came from- good ‘ol comic books!
See a spark? Fan the Flame
One if my biggest regrets with my 12 year old is that I didn’t try enough things with him when he was younger. I’m not talking about signing them up for every activity under the sun hoping that something sticks, because that requires resources and time that I don’t have. I mean picking up on interests quicker and providing more everyday opportunities to find them.
Day trips to museums and science centres, checking out more than just fiction at the library, family camping and group activities, trips to the pool or kicking a ball around in the park. These things provide opportunities to locate sparks in curiosity and curiosity is the first step to passion.
These things all provide opportunities to locate sparks in curiosity and curiosity is the first step to passion.
Due to being a single mom at the time and having health issues, I feel like I didn’t do these enough with my oldest when he was young. We are making up for it now as a growing, blended family and I’m seeing him spark more. It’s never too late to try new things!
You can even start at home by letting your kids help with preparing dinner or doing laundry. They might enjoy cooking or take an interest in fashion or home appliances. Okay that last one about the laundry is just me enlisting my kids to help out around the house but the cooking one is legit.
For further reading, check out this great article from Psychology Today.