The pursuit of hobbies truly paves the way for work. Hobbies provide children opportunities to discover how they learn, to witness improvement and success after much practice, to gain confidence.

Hobbies provide opportunities to learn employable skills; whether the “soft skills” of creativity, teamwork, abstract thinking, problem solving, multi-tasking, communication, perseverance, initiative, responsibility, goal-setting, flexibility, and effort or the “hard skills” (concrete skills) such as reading, writing, mathematics, typing, proficiency in foreign language, fine motor skills, designing, gardening, singing, auto mechanics, pet grooming, or construction.

Your child can learn these extremely valuable skills in a meaningful way, rather than for rote memorization or social pressure. The key is providing your child repeated exposure to a variety of hobbies and encouraging pursuit of those that spark an interest.

Talk with your child about the skills he is learning as he is practicing, playing, and enjoying the activities. Help him develop the skills directly related to the hobbies and more (literacy, technology, and social skills) by providing him with the free time to practice by himself and with others, opportunities to showcase his hobbies to an audience, checking out books on the subjects and reading to him, and browsing the Internet for hobby-related information alongside your child.

How do you know what hobbies to introduce to your child?

  • Use your child’s current interests to help guide your exploration of hobbies. Ask yourself: “What are my child’s abilities and curiosities? Does he love to talk or sing? Does he love to listen to stories? Does he love to tinker with objects and take them apart? Does he love to make music? Does he love to be physically active? Does he love the water at bath time? Does he love to help in the kitchen?”
  • What hobbies would provide opportunities to practice under-developed skills or muscles? If your child is naturally shy, you may consider a group pastime. If your child displays poor gross motor skills, you may consider a strength-building pastime.
  • What social clubs or activities are available in your area?
  • How much time does your child have to pursue a hobby/practice the skills necessary for the hobby?

After deciding several hobbies to introduce to your child, consider how the hobbies can be tailored to your child’s unique abilities and skill levels. After all, fun and learning are the goals, not frustration. For example, if learning to play the piano is a hobby you foresee your child enjoying, perhaps you can work with a piano teacher to create appropriate goals for his age and skill level.

As your child matures in age, ability, and skill level, you will see hobbies develop into hirable skills. To explore careers based on areas of interest, try AFB’s CareerConnect tool for browsing jobs by career clusters.