Gone are the days, when school was all about studies and extracurricular activities meant sports, dance and writing. Today schools have become more inclined towards imparting holistic education to children and in this quest; they have a plethora of activities designed as a part of the curriculum. This includes everything from horse riding to archery, power yoga to swimming, rifle shooting to skating, martial arts to keyboard and the list continues. These activities are proudly portrayed as hobbies in the school curriculum. There are special teachers appointed, extra hours being put for these hobbies.
Over enthusiastic parents who have money to spare enrol their children for two, three or more activities. The so-called hobbies become a part of the children’s daily routine. Children as young as 7/8 years, carry the heavy keyboard and skating equipments to school. The child is prepared for state and national level competitions. Parents want their children to be an all-rounder; for which they are ready to spend any amount of money. They want to show-off the medals, trophies and certificates of the child to everyone around. I agree that it is a proud feeling to see your child excel in all these activities, including studies, but are we not over burdening the child in this bargain? How many times have we as asked children about their likes and dislikes? Have we asked them what they want to pursue as a hobby?
Hobbies are activities that are designed for relaxation and not to breed competition, at least in the younger years. I remember dancing just before my Mathematics exam, just to relieve the built up stress. However, now-a-days children enter the dance room dreaming about reality shows. Hobbies are no more a leisure activity, but a way to grab attention of others around.
My daughter in her much younger years was very interested in drawing and dancing. As soon as she turned six, I got her enrolled in these activities, though not in the school. I believe that a hobby should be taken up outside the school, as it gives the child a new and free environment to explore. I have not yet made her participate in any competitions for the same. I never ask her to practice rigorously also. She does both these activities out of her willingness. When she feels the urge, she picks up the brushes and paints a beautiful world. I enjoy watching her doing these activities leisurely on a weekend. For hours she dances or paints and this helps unleash her creativity.
Recently in one of the PTA meetings, a fellow parent exclaimed,
“Oh your child dances, wow! Was she a part of Dance India Dance Lil’champs?”
I politely replied, “No, she wasn’t?”
“Oh! You should take her there, maybe your child can build a career in dancing.” she replied.
I was amazed by this conversation. How can an eight year old decide which career path they will choose? She then asked me how many trophies has my daughter won in dance. I was stunned at this question. I calmly replied, “None!” Yes, she may not have won a single trophy yet, but does that rule out her love for these two activities? Does it mean she is not enjoying her hobby?
It’s time we realise that hobbies help add a little spark to our monotonous lives and help us to get in touch with our core self. As parents, let us guide our children to pick up the right hobby that will enhance their skills and help them enjoy too.
Gayatri Aptekar is a freelance storyteller, writer, blogger and a mother to her eight year old daughter. She believes in the power of Dreams. She quit her nine year corporate career to follow her passion. A Master Practitioner of NLP, she works with children to accelerate their learning, getting them into peak performance states and coaching them to deal with the everyday challenges.
When she is not counseling students, individuals or couples, she can be found at her blog, “Outside the Kitchen Window” wielding her magical wand to pen her thoughts, poems, fictitious stories, mouth-tingling recipes and book reviews. Apart from these creative adventures, she enjoys reading, dancing, cooking and photography.