Passion Projects for Kids |

Passion Projects for Kids

One of the most interesting things about planning for our children’s future is that there isn’t any sure way of knowing what to prepare for. We cannot see the future or what it will hold, therefore, it is impossible to know which career path will be the best choice for our children.

Even if we track all the current trends in the market, technology, and job training, we’re still making a lot of judgments about what the future will bring, assuming it won’t change between now and when our children reach adulthood and sending our children down paths whose outcomes will be largely unknown.

What if we try something different? What if we step back from encouraging our children toward specific end-goals and allow them instead to focus on the process of pursuing interests and issues that matter to them? Enter the Passion Project!

What is a Passion Project and How Can It Benefit My Child?

A passion project can be any sort of focused, productive work or learning that your child undertakes because they care about it. Spoiler alert: you can create your own passion projects, too.

Your child can learn some truly awesome life skills by embarking on a passion project, including:

  • Gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and their interests
  • Building a growth mindset
  • Developing intrinsic motivation and disciplined work ethics
  • Improving their executive functioning skills as they learn to organize, manage project tasks, and make big decisions
  • Enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Increasing their sense of autonomy and ownership over their learning

Children also find passion projects to be FUN and a welcomed break from their usual structured routines.

If your children are teenagers, pursuing passion projects can be a great addition for their college portfolios that can help to set their applications apart from the hundreds of other applicants with great grades and test scores.

How To Get Started with Passion Projects

Passion projects begin with the ideas, questions, hobbies, and interests of your child. Please read that again.

If you are the one deciding for your child what to learn about then it’s probably not a true passion project. Sometimes we think maintaining strict control over the directions of our children’s efforts will prove to be more productive, but oftentimes what it actually does is hold our children back from discovering what they are really interested in.

The key is allowing your child to decide.

Let them choose where their interests lie. Let them choose what they want to spend their time on. Let them choose what outcomes they want to work for. Let them investigate, make mistakes, learn, and try again.

If your child is brand new to passion projects, they may want to start small and keep things personal, and that’s okay.

One of my 10-year-old’s current passion projects is learning how to cook a variety of different meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, simply because he enjoys cooking better than baking. He will wake up early in the mornings and make crepes for the whole family. In the evenings, he regularly asks what I can hand him to chop, sautee, or marinade.

As your child becomes more accustomed to pursuing their interests, you may find that their ideas for projects flourish into opportunities for impact.

Last summer my 12-year-old wanted to expand on his passion for reading mystery novels. He was no longer satisfied with devouring books by himself and decided, without any prompting from me, that he wanted to share his love of reading with others. His passion project became managing his own virtual mystery book club for a group of other boys his age.

Every month they would read the novel on their own and in the meantime my son would note down funny quotes and discussion questions, create a Google slideshow, and prepare a Kahoot! game based on the book for their monthly Zoom meeting. After the meet was finished, he led the group in a vote for the next book and it would start all over again.

He was so proud of himself, not just for teaching himself how to use new tools and organize others, but for developing and executing the idea by himself. It gave him so much satisfaction to see his ideas become a joyful reality and made him realize that his interests have value in the real world.

But What If My Child Isn’t Passionate about Anything?

It’s easy to get stuck on the word “passion.” It feels large and absolute. Sometimes we think passions are supposed to be huge, all-encompassing commitments. Sometimes we think passion is a quality that people either have or they don’t. 

I say, don’t get hung up on the word. If passion feels too big of a concept for your child, call it interest, curiosity, or hobby. It can also be a question they want an answer to, a problem they want to solve, or a need they want to help provide in their community.

Questions you can ask your child to help them narrow ideas down are:

  • How do they like to spend their time? 
  • What kinds of activities bring them joy? 
  • What topics do they get excited hearing or talking about? 
  • What are they curious to know more about? 
  • What could they work on for hours and get totally absorbed in if mom and dad allowed them to? 

Passion Project Ideas for Kids

If your child is really unsure what they might like to work on, try showing them this list I made and see what sparks an interest for them:

  • Create a recipe book of your own original bakes
  • Teach yourself circuitry by tinkering with old electronics
  • Host an art show or open mic night at your local mosque
  • Begin a video blog that preserves stories and memories from your favorite grandparent’s life
  • Publish your Haiku poetry or short stories through Amazon
  • Train for a marathon
  • Make your own comic book series
  • Learn to animate stop-motion movies
  • Join a community garden
  • Refurbish an old piece of furniture
  • Redecorate a room of your house
  • Start a club of your choice
  • Design a logo and start selling your homemade jewelry around the neighborhood
  • Recreate your favorite moments from Islamic history with LEGO bricks
  • Track the habits of local wildlife that visit your yard

Passion projects are a wonderful way to allow your children to dive deep into their interests. Through managing their own projects in areas that are meaningful to them, they can build lifelong skills that can help them in any career field they choose. It can even ignite the fire that will fuel their way forward into building lives of value and impact. 

Melissa Barreto is a home educating mother of five children and the Co-Founder of Wildflower Homeschool Collective, a homeschool organization based in Northern New Jersey. 

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