Thursday, September 24, 2009

How do parents nurture their kids interests

I was reading Tharini's post on her decision to not put her son to Kumon classes and this set off a chain of thoughts in my mind. (the post below may appear random ... but thats just depicting the right state of my mind - Confused)

Cantaloupe is growing and is growing fast. I believe each individual is talented... some of them are lucky to recognise their potential and other's are not so lucky. And as a parent I think it is my responsibility to identify her talent and harness it.

I have always loved music and I wonder when my parents recognised this passion of mine. My mother being a trained classical singer herself taught me the basics of carnatic music until Varna after which I started taking music classes from a renowned teacher in our city. I remember starting my music lessons from my teacher when I was about 10. I started my dance lessons around the same time as well ... I enjoyed learning Bharatnatyam for the next few years and sometime during my board exams I found it difficult to cope with dance / music classes and studies and I quit dance. I continued learning music until I started working in a different city.

What should I do with Cantaloupe? She is just 5 now and I know she cannot tell me with certainty what she likes. She is most likely to be influenced by her friends. If a friend A goes to a certain class ... she for sure wants to go there. Its not the class that draws her interest ... but the friend's company. Cantaloupe has been taking her swim classes for almost 2 years now ... and she seems to enjoy it. Swimming as I see is more a requirement than anything else these days. I regret not learnt swimming for the silly reason of having to put on swimsuit. (I still cannot be persuaded to wear one)
Cantaloupe was enrolled in Ballet classes when she was 3 ... she was very young and we were naive. She didn't enjoy those classes as much and we discontinued and lost the money the we had paid. This summer, Cantaloupe attended Gymnastics. She says she loves it ... she was pretty good in her classes. We sent her to the community class ... but clearly if she wants to pursuit Gymnastics seriously we need to enroll her for some serious classes. But these classes are expensive ... I don't mind spending on these classes if she is really interested and continues to have improvise/ enjoy. But if she doesn't it seems like a total waste of money.

Any academic classes like Kumon I have decided she will not go - I enjoy teaching her. It gives me that extra time with her and I can afford it at this time. When I am not able to provide her the required assistance I may consider these classes later.

BP will be particularly pleased if she is enrolled in Badminton or Tennis classes. Again private lessons are expensive ... and she is not showing any particular inclination to these sports. But then what if she hasn't realised her potential ... I know kids at this age require some nudging before they realise their potential. She may really start enjoying these sports ...

Classical music, I would have loved her to learn ... but she isn't showing much interest in that front. She seems to be more interested in fast paced / rhythmic music be it bollywood, regional folk songs, classical. I know she likes dancing ... but dance lessons are offered for 6+ in some classes that I enquired around. She is interested in coloring ... but she is not very good with paint. (I know I know ... she is only 5) ... would arts and craft classes be good for her - I don't know :(

Some people around tell me, unless parents experiment on various options, there is no way to identify the kids interest ... some others tell me she is too young for anything. May be I should wait for atleast a year or two.

I am confused ... I wish I knew what she is good at so I could nurture her interests.


B o o said...

I was in that confused state a while ago. I still am, sort of. But right now Ashu(4) has ballet class in her school itself once a week. She loves it. She goes swimming once a week too. I wanted to do one more thing and found out that a school mom has art class for kids and enrolled her. She has attended 2 classes now and shes having fun. So we are set for this year. I ve to find out how her interests are next year and then enroll her in diff classes. Thats the plan for now. I feel they are too young to know now. We ve to keep experimenting, I guess.

Poppy said...

Here's my take on it - no structured classes under the age of 6. their bodies have not yet fully developed. Swimming doesn't count - like you said it's not a hobby but a life skill. It's a MUST.

I'm with you all the way on the Kumon, because I'm sure you're a terrific teacher (although a little impatient :p)

Wrt other classes, how much extra curricular does she do at school? If she already does a lot of art work does she need classes - I'm sure you can also do some with her. And you have so many art activities on the internet to look into.

Now dance and music are two things that cannot be taught at home (or school -since we're talking Indian music here) so you could probably send her if she shows an inclination. How about Kathak classes?

DDmom said...

I wrote a mini post in T's comment space on this topic. I am most of the time unable to differentiate what she genuinely wants to do Vs wanting to go for a class just because her friends are in it.
What's worse here is that all these classes are provided in the apartment itself, so there is more pressure for her, when her friends are in "a class" and cannot play. What I have resolved to is to send her for 2 or 3 trial classes, within which I can sort of say she likes it or not.
Like I sent her to singing classes, day 3 she declared it was too boring. Art class, couple of her close friends walked out, but she continued.
Also, in her school, they have a discovery programme, where after lunch, all they do is activities.
All said, one or 2 classes at the most. I pity some kids in my aptmt complex, where they are back from school at 4:00. Have 2 back to back classes from 5-6, 6-7, 5 days a week. Kids aged 6-7.

Solilo said...

My daughter is also 5. I have also decided against any outside class. I believe by helping them with studies a parent always forms a strong bond with them. My mom taught me too. So I want to experience the same thing with my daughter.

As for developing their interests, I guess we can introduce them to each thing and find out their enthusiasm. My daughter loves dancing and that's why we put her in Ballet last year and she just loves it. She is continuing it this year too. She also loves basket ball so we put her in that. Now she wants to learn horse riding and taekwondo. I am not comfortable with overburdening a 5 year old even if she shows so much interest. So I think introducing one thing at a time and then encouraging them not to quit it is the way to go.

Uma said...

First time here... I like your blogskin...
I guess I haven't really reached this stage with my daughter (she is 3)... but I do notice that experiments work - the way she responds to each activity shows what she is inclined towards and naturally good at. I am against the structured classes as well.. it takes away the freedom to explore ...

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@Boo: I have written our sad story with Ballet ... but she is showing some interest there these days ... may be a second try is a good option. I am on the fence with Art ... half the time at school is spend on Art .. does she really need another class .. I am not so sure.

@Poppy: I am working on my patience level :) Dance has caught her fancy these days ... but then its ballet or bollywood style (fast music) ... she has not been exposed to Kathak at all ... may I should start taking her around for some performances and note her reaction .., that might give me a clue. (another to do in my endless list :( )

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@DDMom: yes ... I hate those back to back classes that kids have to attend ... 2 classes, and swimming is good for me :) I think I have to enroll for some trial classes and take it from there.

@Solio: I'm glad most think, at this age, structured classes are a No No ...
On the No quitting, I agree on that policy... but at this age, if they really don't like something, whats the point in pushing ? But then once they are mature and are truly attending competitive classes, quitting due to lack of time / practice / tough competition is out of question. Commitment is the key to success :)

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@Uma: Welcome here and thanks for the compliment about the blog :)
Exploration we have to do .. no choice there I guess ... on a lighter note ... I am meant to spend those extra bucks before I know my daughter's interest ... no savings for me

Lakshmi said...

I evaluated Kumon for my daughter S this year and decided not to do it. Mainly because I did not want to her to just follow a routine. Also I want to enjoy being part of her learning as well, going through all that with her.

She is doing dance lessons, a veda/sanskar class and soccer lessons this year. She had shown interest in these after seeing her friends dance, her dad chant slokas and her class mates play soccer respectively. We evaluated them all and ensured that the classes are not anything serious above her age :)

We all worry whether we are doing enough for our kids. I think you are doing well with Cantaloupe guiding you on her interests. I am sure she will not miss out on things. May be BP can take her out and play tennis with her and see how she likes it.

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@Lakshmi: You seem have figured out your kids interest ... thats quite an accomplishment !! Pat yourself !
BP would love our daughter to play tennis ... but she is not showing as much interest. She shows interest only when some of her friends play ... but co-ordinating with friends and taking them along and training them as well is not something we can do as often :(
But we are trying to keep her motivated :)

Rohini said...

I am in the same boat. I am all for unstructured play in the park but he refuses to go there any more since most of the kids his age are in some evening activity or the other and there's no one to play with :(

Sujatha said...

CA, I would approach it the other way. We got big N involved with something when he was young and now he is so into them - piano and swimming. He is starting on the cello through school this week and he can't be any more excited than he already is. With little N, I think dance and singing are her thing and running (she'll swim of course, but perhaps not competitively). I see a lot of parents hop from one thing to another and I think it has the potential to confuse the child.

If you have the slightest inkling about what Cantaloupe wants, I would say go for it with all the enthusiasm you can muster. It will rub off on her and encourage her to keep at it.

And Kumon, we've stayed far away from it and have no intentions of changing that.

Whatever way you go, I hope it all works out great for you guys.

My two cents. :)

sraikh said...

When Ashwina was younger, I enrolled in all the things you mentioned, ballet, soccer, art..

She didnt want to continue any of them. She is in Girl Scouts and does many things with her troop(like she is going sailing..sailing!! I am green with envy)She does camping, service projects, art stuff to earn badges.
Then through her own interest, she took up beading and writing stories. I searched for classes for her age but they were either too expensive or too far away.

Avasha is going the same way. She just joined a girl scouts troop and wll do stuff with them
I asked her whether she wants to do anything else, soccer, ballet and she said no And frankly soccer scares, 2 practices a week plus a weekend match... I would be exhausted

Neil is just hanging out and not enrolled in anything

Samar is doing a mommy and me gymnastics class and next month will progress to a class just with himself.

This Kumon thing, alot of parents do it. But to me, it seems if you buy worksheets or print stuff off the internet, it is just as good.
And save the $100 per month

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@Sujata: I knew you would have wise words for me. I am trying to use my best judgement to understand her interests .... most times she gets carried away with what her friends are doing. She has shown some interest in gymnastics and I have her enrolled. But I have heard that it can hamper growth ... my pediatrician doesn't seem to think so.

@Asaan: You are one lucky lady ... your girls are very clear on what they want to do... now you just need means to encourage them. I am still struggling ...
As for the boys, I am sure seeing their smart sisters, they will voice their interests :)

Tharini said...

You know...I was just as confused on this count. Decicing on No Kumon itself was a big path clearer for me. The other big consideration is that I will NOT drive around every day of the week lugging him to a class. I just don't want the stress.

I am with Poppy on the yes for swimming classes. I know I want to enroll him for that and he is interested too.

One thing I did for him out of a family interest was singing lessons. Music is a big part of our family, and I hope he will also take to it. If he doesn't, then I hope not to push him, but if he does, we'll stick with it!

I know its not much help....but the very fact that you're stopping to think about these classes, shows that you will eventually make the right choice for her. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmm...experiment is best option ahh???
Even i rejected the swimming classes for the same reason.....
Aryan's Mom

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@T: Swimming is a must ... its not even an option. Its as required as biking :)
Music for your kids uh? Oh .. I'll be on cloud nine if my girls show inclination towards music... I love love music and so does my family.

@Aryan's mom: Aryan is still too little for any activity ... wait for another year or two and you will be in the same boat as me ... unless you are super lucky in figuring our his interest.

choxbox said...

Hi C's A. Interesting post and comments!

Am going to ask a Q on a tangent - what if a kid shows no particular interest?

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@Chox: You know what, you hit the nail on the head ... thats the exact feeling I get ... left to herself, I know Cantaloupe would be fine doing her own things and not necessarily be enrolled in any classes ... but just like all major decisions that we take for the kids until they are old enough to decide we have to take a call on this as well and hope we are able to channelise our kids potential.

PVS said...

Interesting topic..something that I have been debating and trying to evaluate.

btw, I hopped here following TPL's palkova story and then checked out your other posts.

I have a daughter who is going to be 6 and a 2 year old son. I did experiment with my daughter. Sent her to the right brain classes (spent a fortune) and found that it was not as per my expectation and stopped after a term. She wanted to continue thou. Then, she wanted to take up some of the enrichment classes offered in her school as her friends were in it. So I enrolled her for Arts after much delibration as she was already doing a lot of art work in school as well as at home. But I think this was one good investment. She learnt quite a lot about the techniques in painting and a general appreciation of great artists. This is something I would have never managed to teach her. She is still continuing this class.

Then, I enrolled her in singing (carnatic) and Bharathanatyam. She is interested is the dance and is continuing while the music class has been stopped.

Swimming as you mentioned is a must!!

So, I would suggest you take up some trail classes to check what her interests are.

Sorry for taking up a lot of your comment space, but this is one topic very close to my heart!!

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

@PVS: Looks like experimenting is a MUST in most cases .... trial classes are nice start. I guess we parents are meant to spend some money before we / kids figure out their interests.

Thanks for sharing your experience.


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