3 Ways To Help Kids Foster Long-Lasting Interests
This past August, a group of Girl Scouts from across the U.S. got to watch the launch of the SpaceX 23rd Cargo Supply Launch to the International Space Station. Anna Claire Beaton of Dewitt, Arkansas, was part of the crowd. It was an exciting moment for the 8-year-old Brownie who loves space and science.
“Anna Claire started showing an interest in space and science in preschool,” her mom, Lindsay Beaton, tells CircleAround. “She loved Star Wars and space”.
Beaton knew that fostering these interests were important for her daughter’s creative and intellectual development. Together, they explored these topics through books and activities, like fun science projects at home, visiting science museums, and more.
“I had a wonderful experience as a Girl Scout myself and wanted that same experience for my daughters,” Beaton explains. When Anna Claire wanted to join Girl Scouts, a local troop wasn’t available at the time. Beaton took the initiative to become a troop leader and provide this opportunity for her daughter and other girls in their community.
As they became more involved in Girl Scout activities, Beaton helped Anna Claire discover opportunities to explore her interests further. The pair became involved in the Making Space for Girls initiative, which helps girls develop their skills through STEM+ topics and experiences across the U.S.
Anna Claire was one of over 800 Girl Scouts who submitted science project ideas to this challenge. Hers, along with two other projects, were selected as finalists, in the competition sponsored by the Girl Scouts Citrus Council, Space Kids Global, ProXops and the International Space Station U.S. Laboratory,
Anna Claire’s proposal posed such questions as can ants live in space, and if so, how can they help us on other planets?
According to the ISS National Lab website, her proposal will come to life aboard the International Space Station, which will help “assess the tunneling behavior of ants in space, in the hopes that ants could someday help aerate the soil for crops grown on other planets.”
We asked Beaton to provide some advice on how parents can help foster long-lasting creativity and interest in topics and experiences for years to come. Here’s what she had to say.
1Help Kids Develop Independent Interests
It’s easy to put kids into activities that you loved growing up, but those aren’t always what they want to do. Helping them discover their own interests is healthy for their development, and much more fun.
“Just let your children be who they are going to be, and not who or what you think they should be,” Beaton advises. “Sometimes they will have all of the same interests that we may have had as children, but sometimes they don't.”
2Make Space for New Interests
“My husband was quite athletic, so when Anna Claire wanted to try soccer, we were on board,” Beaton tells CircleAround. “After trying a few seasons, she just wasn't into it, so we didn't sign up for the next season. We haven't pushed any of the other sports on her in our area because she just isn't interested.”
By stopping soccer, Anna Claire had more time to participate in activities she really enjoyed. Along with science and Girl Scouting, she loves dance and is involved in her church. “These are all things she enjoys,” Beaton emphasizes, “And that she chooses to do.”
3Commitment Is Part of the Process
While it’s important to ensure kids are not forced to do activities, it’s just as important to teach them they can’t just “move on” whenever they feel like it. “We teach our girls that when we make a commitment, we keep that commitment,” Beaton explains.
“Halfway through her third season of soccer, Anna Claire decided she was done and wanted to quit, but we did not allow her,” she adds. “She had made a commitment to be on the team, and they needed her to complete the season. It was a great way to teach responsibility.”
The Bottom Line
Helping a child develop their interests can help them blossom into independent adults who can take their skills to the next level. Anna Claire’s mother knows that giving her child the love and support she needs now will help Anna Claire have access to the opportunities she’ll appreciate in the future, and the confidence to pursue them.