Rabbit Holes

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004
Rabbit Holes
3
Tue, 07-23-2013 - 2:21pm

How much time do you allow your DC to pursue their own interest?  DS loves to pursue his own interest for hours at a time.  One of the reasons we decided to homeschool was so he could have the time to pursue those interests down whichever rabbit hole he wanted.  But I'm beginning to get a little worried about HOW much time is considered...healthy.

DS is a mathy kid.  He converts everything to numbers.  He dreams in numbers.  He currently likes to work in Excel where he can look at number trends, test out formulas, graph data sets (latest pursuits), etc.  He's self taught fraction to decimal conversions, division, multiplication, squares, square roots, averages, etc.  The list goes on and on.  On the one hand, yay!  Because he explores and really learns to understand, so "gets" everything he is learning.  On the other hand, he's on the computer experimenting for hours on end.  I was ok with 2 hours to pursue an area of interest.  I am a bit nervous with 6. 

He is good about taking breaks to eat, ask questions, run errands, help with laundry, etc.  I also don't want to discourage his pursuits.

Any ideas?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Tue, 07-23-2013 - 10:32pm

My kids, my eldest two especially, have always tended to immerse themselves very deeply in their interests. Rather than trying to limit or redirect them away from their interests, we mostly discussed balance. Balance between waking and sleeping, nutritional balance, between solitary vs. social pursuits, active vs. sedentary pursuits, and passive vs. creative pursuits. Rather than saying "That's too much reading [or too much computer time or whatever]: let's limit it," we said "Doesn't seem like enough physical [or social, or creative] activity: what can we do to increase that?" That got my kids looking at what they liked doing that was social, or physical, or creative, and identifying what they wanted to do more of. 

 

We found our path that way. Not that we were able to create a one-time, permanent fix for the obsessions: we had to keep revisiting the issues. But all along we were teaching them how to recognize what a healthy balance is, and allocate their time pro-actively to an assortment of activities. My kids still have a tendency to get locked into interests, my eldest especially. She's 19 now and on her way to being a professional violinist. Her single-minded pursuit of activities is a real strength: she tends to be obsessive about practicing and immersing herself in whatever musical learning she's supposed to be doing. That's just her personality. But she knows how to fix things when the balance no longer feels right.

We chose to address issues of balance through weekly family meetings. If there were no pressing issues, we'd just talk about how the balance was working out and pat ourselves on the back for keeping things on an even keel, re-iterating how that healthy balance was being achieved. That kept the kids' interests from being perceived as "A Problematic Obsession," which would tend to put them on the defensive.

Miranda 

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Tue, 07-23-2013 - 11:47pm

I guess obsession runs in our family.  We have not done anything to restrict the amount of time our children want to spend on a subject.  Our middle child spent a couple of *years* in her room, emerging for meals and trips to town, working on art and interacting with online friends who were simliarly obsessed, creating and watching vlogs, and listening to music.  Her recent achievements in art and music follow directly from the time she spent focusing on little else.  I can see similar patterns in my other children's lives, who are nevertheless not social misfits nor one dimensional in their interests and achievements.

 Deborah

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004
Wed, 07-24-2013 - 1:18pm

Thanks Miranda and Deborah.  I agree that he is getting a lot out of being able to explore.  But, like Miranda said, I am concerned about the balance.  I like the idea of the weekly discussion on balance for the week.  We talk about once a month on education goals and interests anyway, so I guess we can bump the frequency up a bit and include a more day to day plan. 

Thanks again.