I was nine when I recognized I had the ability to draw. The kids at school made comments about my work, encouraging me to create more. At one point, I commented to my mother, “I wonder where I got my artistic ability.”
She walked me out to our stuffed, sweltering garage. We filed past the bikes and storage totes to the neglected dark corner. After a minute, Mama pulled out three oil paintings— two of fluffy Himalayan cats and one of an African savanna. I could almost feel their fur and cold noses as their blue eyes stared out softly from the canvas. The sun was setting over the savanna, and there was a lazy lion who looked as if he was going to take another 24-hour rest before hunting again.
That day in the garage, I saw a side of my mother I had never seen before, and I was completely inspired.
Being Intentional with Displaying Your Talents
At nine years old, I decided one thing. I did not want to be an artist who stopped creating art. I would do my best to keep my talents out of the garage. When I became a parent, I discovered how difficult that vow was to keep. There are many years when my watercolors dried out or my camera waited for repairs because diapers were the priority.
Parenthood can be all consuming, but I have always strived to share the best of me. I create. It is what I do. In the lean years, my canvas was cardboard. I made some pretty cool suits of armor for 5-year-old boys.
I urge you to find your passion again. It doesn’t have to be big or honed to perfection. It doesn’t have to even be a concrete skill; wonder, pause, observation, and rest are my favorite skills. I have made sure to share them with my kids. We notice minute details when we walk. We stop for bugs on the trail. Because our pockets always have a few rocks in them, I know they have learned to look for beauty in the small things.
My husband is a chef who loves to cook. His world is smells, textures, salt, and pinches of herbs. When he cooks, everyone tends to gather around to talk and taste. We allow meal making to be the event within the event. This is one of the ways he shares his gifts with the kids. They may never learn to cook much more than mac and cheese, but they will take away the fact that Dad has a talent he uses to serve others. We have cultivated our passions, even in small, family-sized ways. We are sharing our gifts.
What is your passion? Don’t let your proverbial paints dry out.
Three Ways to Make Room for Exploration and Sharing
The greatest gift of the homeschooling lifestyle is the ability to shape your day and choose your priorities. As parents, we need to show our kids how we, too, continue to grow and be passionate about the things we love.
For example, I love to learn through reading. My kids see me do that in my free time, but it has also become a part of their schooling time as well.
It was not always easy. convenient, or neat to help them find their interests. Making room for creativity and extra courses that fall out of the core three Rs is something we struggle to keep a priority every year, but I am thankful we have.
1. Keep the School Day Short
One of the greatest advantages of our homeschooling life is that we are not bound to an 8-hour work day. Our school hours are from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Although projects or in depth research may extend beyond that that a bit, the bulk of homeschooling is completed within those four hours each day. Over the thirteen years we have homeschooled, we’ve found that if everyone works diligently for those hours, we will have our work completed. The children still have plenty of time to get outside, explore, and create on their own without a ton of structure.
2. Give School Credit for Pursuing Passions
What does your student love to do in life? Make it a credit-able. You could make it the center of your curriculum if you are so inclined. My son loves computers and games, so he has CompuScholar and is learning coding. My daughter is a writer, so one year I joined NanoWriMo with her, and we challenged ourselves to write 50,000 words in 30 days. My younger daughters are obsessed with YouTube videos that create props for their American Girl dolls, so I signed them up for a challenge online. It is a short 4-week class where they will learn to sew easy outfits for their dolls. They are all learning in an informal interest-led way as I make way for them to embrace their interests and develop life skills.
3. Make Learning a Visible Priority in Your Life
It is easy to take a class online at night when the kids are sleeping or get up early and write (like I do) and never mention it to the kids. You may even feel a little protective of your hobby. But I think we need to communicate our interests to our kids. They need to see mom as a person outside of her role as mother and homeschool teacher. And knowing that mom has personal interests makes them more open to dialog about their passions as well.
Part of the reason I began writing and blogging was to show my children you can pursue your passions no matter what your household looks like. I often share with my teens how my learning is going. I want them to see that learning is a part of pursuing your passions, and it lasts a lifetime if you do it right.
Take Time for Pursuing Passions Again
If your talent is tucked into a box in the garage or attic, unpack it. If you feel untalented, explore things you used to like until you find something that reignites your interests. Most of the skills I have learned as an adult came from a library book or an online class.
What have you always wanted to do? Get inspired and begin in any way you can. I started watercolor painting again after I bought a simple watercolor kit for under $20. It doesn’t need to cost much at all. Your kids are watching you learn. Show them it never stops.