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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Helping Kids Discover Their Passions

I can't tell you how many times I've asked a child/teen what they are interested in or what they want to do with their life, and they give the shoulder shrug and say "nothing much". This response tells me that they either haven't found their niche or they are generally apathetic and unconcerned with their future. To help overcome this "slump", I created a "Passion Sort" which contains 100 hobbies, interests, and passions that kids might have.

I get the students to sort them into three categories: Very Interested, Somewhat Interested, and Not Interested. Next, I get them to look at only the "Very Interested" Category, and narrow it down to the top ten things. Then the top 5. Then the top 3. Then the number one. I use the worksheet on the right for them to record their answers and thoughts. I find it fascinating to see what makes it into the top ten! Sometimes I could have guessed a few of them, but others, they tell me about what matters to them that I would have never known!

Then, I ask a variety of questions to assess the activity: Describe how you felt when I asked you to get rid of some of your passions? How did you decide which ones to get rid of? What do your top interests have in common? What makes this one the top passion for you? What are you doing RIGHT NOW related to this passion? If you could do ANYTHING related to this top passion, what would you like to do? As a summary, I explain that people all have different things that they are passionate about. We tend to be the happiest when we do things that we are passionate about. The thing that we are most passionate about is the thing that motivates us the most in everything that we do. How has this passion motivated you to do something? We also discuss what potential careers could tie in with their passion. 

I use this activity for a variety of purposes. One, it helps the kids learn more about themselves and what really matters to them. Many kids never stop to think about what they personally like, but only what their family gets them involved with. Imagine a kid who could be a musical prodigy that has never so much as touched an instrument! 

Two, it help the kids think logically about future careers and what they would be happiest doing. The best career is one that they truly enjoy doing. 

Three, it can point out if they have a passion that is never expressed. This activity also helps to guide kids towards finding where they belong and where they could fit in, even if they've never tried it before. This is one reason why the group labels say "interested" instead of "enjoyed".

What are YOU Passionate About?

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