Less is more

Less is moreYou’ll always be tempted to think more is more.

For instance, your child shows interest in planting seeds. You think, “We can create a garden! We can till away part of the yard, start a compost heap, get a variety of seeds, and grow berries while we’re at it. Then my kids can take notes about the rate of growth, they can draw pictures as the plants emerge, they can water the plants and learn which need shade and which need sun, then we can harvest the vegetables and I can teach them to make ratatouille… after they write recipes on notecards, converting the French Metric measurement system to our cups and ounces…”

Right? Or some nutty version of that.

The child wanted to stick a little seed in the ground to see what would happen, and you are imagining starting an organic farm with a restaurant.

Your child asks about one artist, and you envision weekly art lessons combined with study of each period of art, organized by month, with narrations and illustrations, culminating in a trip to Florence! Yes, I did some version of this one and my youngest daughter said at the end of the trip to Italy, “I hate art.”

This was our daughter who could not get enough of the Cincinnati Art Museum before that very expensive trip. But I killed art. I overdid it. I plunged the knife into the chest of art and it bled out.

We did rekindle a love of art years later through fashion and today this 16 year old can say she loves art again and wants to visit the Art Institute in Chicago…. but it took 8 years.

Less is more.

If your child asks to bake cookies, bake cookies with your child. Don’t expect to now go through each cookie recipe one at a time until he hates baking.

If you see a glimpse of interest in computers, don’t assume that means your child wants to be a web designer, developer, or programmer. Most likely your kid wants to be a computer game-player. Understanding a little about how all that works is great and if it leads to genuine interest, offer some resources to look at when she’s ready, when he feels like it! Don’t pile on lessons and requirements, thinking you can turn “computer-love” into a Valuable Lesson.

If you find yourself excited about potting, quilting, the history of music, birding, hiking, bathroom remodeling, even —composting—, you do it! Do what feels good to you (you’ll find that you have a rhythm to your interest and parts of the subject will not interest you at all). That model will help you remember the pace and process of how interests grow. Then you can gently support the interests your kids have without jumping on the bandwagon so heavily, you launch them accidentally over the other side and right out of the wagon!

Trust the process of your passion more than the organization of your lessons.

Less is more.


image by !anaughty!

3 Responses to “Less is more”

  1. Kika says:

    Love this. I guess I’ve been there:)

  2. Jim says:

    Great post. I like to think I have done a good job of not “overdoing it” with each of my three children. Every time they expressed an interest or talent, I simply supported it according to the degree of their interest. They drove the process. And they moved away from some things in time, and dove deep into other things. Now I am stunned by their talents in music, sport, art, language. I swear before heaven – these kids show 10 times as much talent and passion in their chosen interests as their classmates who have been pushed by their parents into whatever activity was the flavour of the day (piano, art, ballet, hockey, etc). It has been a beautiful journey for me in “trusting my instincts” as a parent.

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