Here’s a good rule: Don’t expose your kids to stuff that’s good for them and don’t actively look for their passions. Instead, just listen and make good suggestions. The real purpose of education is for kids to learn to find their own passion – not for you to find it for them.
1. Well-rounded kids don’t find a passion.
People justify school by saying that kids need to be exposed to a lot so they can see what they’re good at. But school is actually just five subjects. Eight as kids get older. The world is 5 million subjects. The world is way too big for us to start exposing our kids to possibilities. Because it’s too random. Or worse, it’s not random. It’s only what we the parents like. So the goal of having well-rounded kids undermines their ability to find their passion.
2. Your own passions are useless to your kids.
All the entrepreneurial ideas I’ve had for my kids ultimately failed, because—big surprise—I’m the one in the family who has a passion for building new businesses.
I started my oldest son on violin. He had no choice. I was not a homeschooler then. And I watched my cousins all go through the Suzuki program. I wanted that for myself, but it was too late, so I started it for my son.
What I learned, just a little bit late for violin: If you think a love of [whatever you love] is important, then act on it for your own life, but don’t force it on your kid.
3. Your kids will find what they love like a cat finds water on a drought-riddled farm.
What I learned from living through a drought: If you give a cat the ability to go anywhere, they find water. If you limit them, they die. Parents restrict a kid’s ability to explore, lock the kid in school, and then decide that the kid can’t find their passion on their own.
My younger son begged for a year to also play an instrument before I gave in (I was overwhelmed by the prospect of making a second kid practice every day). Since then, he has tried voice, piano, and guitar, but he always comes back to cello. That’s his process.
He also found baking, and at this point he does all the baking in our household. I would have never thought of baking as something that suited him, but when he bakes it’s a performance. The deserts are a spectacle, eliciting oohs and ahhs, and baking with his friends is more action-painting than careful measurements.
4. You know how to steer if you know their personality type.
My son who plays the cello is an ESFP, which means he’s a born performer, so when he was two years ahead in math by first grade, I largely ignored it because I know he’ll never make a living in academia or problem solving. That’s not him.
My older son has been playing violin since he was three. He’s good enough to be fun to listen to, but he hates performing. So I leave it up to him. INTJs don’t grow up to be performers. They are problem solvers, behind-the-scenes operators.
Those of you who say kids are too young to be so focused – you are in denial. A kid is born good at some things and bad at other things. We all are. No one can “be anything”. It’s a vapid expression left over from half-baked feminist ideas of opening doors for women.
If you want to keep everything open to your kid, your kid will have nothing; All options open means no options selected. If you steer your kid to what will feel fulfilling, your kid will learn how to find that for herself.
5. Look for patterns. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Look for the intersection of your kid’s personality type and your kid’s interests. Help your kid stick to things he or she could be great at. (For example, my son made a gymnastics team, but he’ll be very tall, so I discouraged investing time in gymnastics when he will end up unable to compete with the short kids.)
Many of you will be able to figure out your kid’s type by using a personality test. At about five years old you should be able to tell. Many of you will know even before that. If you want to know how to parent you particular child, I recommend taking the course I have on personality type for parents. It’s amazing to me how much easier it is to raise my kids once I understand what their definition of fulfillment is.
I see so many adults benefit from learning their type late in life. It’s so hard to know what drives us when no one taught us to ask the question.Our system is performance-based and not purpose-based. It teaches mimicry and not passion.
If we are on a mission to change that, with homeschooling, then the first step is understanding purpose. We don’t inherit our parent’s purpose. Each child has their own drivers. Find those to help your kids find their passion.