I read homeschooling articles all the time that talk about “finding your child’s passion” and going with it, but I never really understood how to translate that to my own daughter and her lack of focus, her Aspie traits, her, yes, weirdness.
When she was 6, and 7, and 8, and 9, her absolutely favorite book was Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Healthcare Handbook.
Ah ha! thought I. Her passion is medicine. I must foster that.
She has always adored science and nature. We’ve done primitive skills, been involved with a primitive skills group, she’s flintknapped, gone to weeklong overnight wilderness camps. We’ve participated in WinterCount (a primitive skills gathering). By the time she was 8, she knew how to navigate by the sun and landmarks, knew how to make a compass using the sun, how to start a fire without matches, could throw knives (at a target LOL), could hike 6 miles in a wilderness area to see hidden petroglyphs, knew many local edible & medicinal plants…. the list goes on.
In years past, we’ve tried Prepare and Pray and Blessed Assurance, both primitive skills/survival type curricula. We’ve always stopped after a little while as we both lose interest in that format.
This year, she is working through Kamana 2, step 2 of an intensive naturalist training program, as her science.
But this isn’t her passion. She does it, she enjoys it, but ….
When she was 10, she wanted to do ballet. I enrolled her in a local class, despite her being so uncoordinated that she couldn’t even jump rope. We were with that school for about three years, at which time the teacher pulled me aside and basically told me that unless my daughter started acting more mature than her age, she needed to quit.
Yeah, it was weird.
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At 8, we sent her to a week-long spring break drama day camp through the local children’s theater. She loved it. We searched out opportunities for her to do more, and found another youth theater that had homeschool programs. She did several with them and had such JOY with it, but she would always grin and laugh on stage because she loved it so much.
She learned to have her lines down by week three of a program — the first week was the ‘getting to know you’ week, the end of the first week or beginning of the second they’d get their parts and a copy of the script, and the third week they were expected to not need their scripts anymore.
She was – and is – a big ham, but then we got to a point where to go any further she’d need to do actual youth theater rather than programs. With daily practices and two hours round trip, that is simply out of our reach.
We found that our local high school was going to offer Drama as a class for the first time, so we signed dd up for it. She was shocked at the amount of wasted time and how long the kids took to learn their lines. After working with Youth Theater for several years, she just wasn’t feeling the step down.
At about 12 she got a game by Project Runway. She and her friends would spend hours spinning the pointer and then drawing designs. She asked for the Accessories add on for Christmas. After about 6 months the whole thing got lost in her room. Occasionally she’d find it and use it for a few days, then it would get lost again.
A few years ago, she started writing fan fiction. She got several followers and her stories were actually quite good. Two years ago a homeschooling friend told us she was going to have her daughter write a novel for English that coming year. Since we’d just finished an IEW course with them, we decided that our daughters would work through A Guide to Writing Your Novel together, and get together weekly to go over their work.
Then we moved cross-country. No matter, Skype to the rescue! They wrote and wrote and wrote and had a grand time.
I gave my daughter a choice of what to study for history last year, and she chose the Middle Ages because she wanted to set her books in that setting. She wanted her history to be research for it. Then she started using The Sims to storyboard her stories. To do that she needed to figure out what they were going to wear. She bought a book about designing fashions, something like Fashion Workshop, and started drawing.
Soon one whole wall was covered with her dress designs.
About this same time we found and joined a Civil War reenactment group. She sewed her own corset.
She took a Landry Academy [note: Landry Academy is no longer in business] class called Forensic Anatomy and decided she wanted to go into forensics.
She took a research class and did her final research project on Mid-19th Century Women’s and Teen’s Fashions in the US. She was one of only two students to do historical research rather than scientific research for the class, and she got a 147/150 on the final project.
She continued sewing, especially for her baby sister, and told me that she’d like to get a book on how to make patterns so she could start actually making some of her designs instead of just drawing them. She decided she either wants to be a forensic analyst or a fashion designer or a novelist. I’m worried about job prospects.
She finished the first draft of one novel, and is working on two others.
We found a class from Landry called Clothing Construction and Design and enrolled her. And then a member of our re-enactment group forwarded me a link to the Minnesota Historical Society’s page where they announced an internship opportunity for girls aged 15-18 to work together with girls from Palestine, performing historical clothing research and designing clothing together to culminate in a fashion show in April.
My daughter applied. She interviewed on Friday. I was so nervous! This is the kid who I still have to remind to not interrupt. To not hug everyone she meets. To not talk about bowel habits in a public restroom.
We practiced handshakes the day before the interview. She brought in some of her designs, a dress she’d sewn for her sister (chosen because of the many elements it used — set in sleeves, gathered waist, lined bodice, handsewn hems), and walked in confidently.
Today, she got the call that she was chosen. Twenty positions, over fifty applicants, and my homeschooled, weird, she-will-never-stay-focused-or-be-able-to-get-a-job kid was chosen to participate in a cross-cultural design group.
I don’t know if she’ll end up in fashion design. We call last year the Year of the Novel. This year is The Year of Sewing.
So there you have it — false starts. Starting and stopping. Tangents. Losing passions under a mound of dirty clothes. And yet…. still they grow. Still we nurture. Still they succeed.
I wrote the above five years ago. That same daughter is now a junior in college.
She cut her finger that year, a minor cut but she dripped a few drops of blood.
She passed out. You guys, she passed out.
There goes any medical career. 😀
Where she is now
She took a few drama classes at college but has since decided that while she loves acting, it’s not a career direction she wants to go in. (Can you hear my mama’s sigh of relief, especially after the Harvey Weinstein scandal?)
She still writes, but she does it for pleasure. Perhaps one day she will make a living off it.
Her real passion? Still sewing. To the right is her putting the finishing touches on her historically accurate ballgown that she designed, drafted, and sewed with minimal help from me at 17.
She designs, drafts, and sews many of her own clothes, including bathing suits. She is seriously considering opening up a cosplay business online, and selling custom creations.
A Charlotte Mason education is excellent for allowing your children to follow their passions. It introduces them to a broad variety of subjects that they might not even know exist.
It gives them time in the afternoons to pursue those passions, yet not tie them so thoroughly to those passions that changing mid-leap is disastrous.
Let your children explore their interests while still giving them a solid base. Don’t let worry overtake you if you can’t see any passion developing. Life is full of stops and starts and changes in direction.