Parenting Playtime

Motivating your Kids with Hobbies, Instruments and Science

Does your child enjoy cooking, playing his saxophone or drawing characters? If so, work to encourage him or her to develop hidden talents!

by Michelle Donaghey

Does your child enjoy cooking, playing his saxophone or drawing  characters? If so, work to encourage him or her to develop hidden talents!

Chef Monique Jamet Hooker, who travels around the country teaching student French cooking seminars, says that children who learn about cooking at classes and with their parents “learn teamwork, learn skills and learn a culture. What you teach might not impact them now, but it is like any other learning experience. You cannot look at the reward now. It may be years down the road when they decide to try one of the recipes (they have cooked with you) then.”
If you don’t have time to cook during the week with your child, plan for the weekend! During the week, he or she can plan, choosing an appropriate recipe and making a shopping list. While shopping, let your child compare prices and read labels which helps them in their math and reading. The actual cooking process will help your child learn to use measuring cups and spoons correctly and to learn fractions.
Budding musicians should also be nurtured even if what they are playing doesn’t sound much like music to your ears! If they don’t enjoy practicing just the sheet music from school band, get out and purchase some sheet music. Look for contests locally if they would like to compete. Find out if there are any churches or groups that are looking for somewhat experienced players. Have family concerts, listening to the latest songs your child or children have learned, making them special with snacks or desserts they enjoy.
Wanna-be artists love working with different materials and learning about different kinds of art. Visit a craft store and let your child look and point out something he or she would like, not something you would like to try! If cartoon characters are what he wants to draw, get books that will inspire him to try to make his own! Remember that it doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to do it either! Simplicity is the key- purchase a few paints and see whether watercolor painting is really something your daughter wants to do! Instead of purchasing books, check out art books from the library!
Kids are always asking questions, some more than others. They want to know why the sky is blue, how seeds grow and how radios work. Parents often think that they need to have a degree in science to help their children. It can help a lot. But, there are also other ways to teach your kids sciences in everyday activities.
“Everyday is filled with opportunities to learn science- without expensive chemistry sets or books…Together, parents and children can:
   – See how long it takes for a dandelion or rose to burst into full bloom; or
   – Watch the moon as it appears to change over the course of a month, and record the changes or
   – Guess why one of your plants is drooping.
   Scientific projects need not be messy or time consuming. Depending on your child’s age and interest, you have to choose by knowing your child. Some children enjoy collecting rocks and identifying them while others could care less. Let your child pick something they want to do, such as star gazing or making crystals. So buying a violin or any other instrument online is a bad idea right? Not necessarily. I do have a few recommended websites that I trust and have used in the past. Also Amazon and eBay are great for purchasing shoulder rests, or even music books. So don’t count them out quite yet.


Michelle Donaghey is a freelance writer and mother of two boys, Chris and Patrick, who are her inspiration. She lives in Bremen, Indiana just south of South Bend, home of Notre Dame. When she isn’t writing, Michelle can be found in her perennial flower garden or working on small home improvement projects. Michelle has written for parenting publications including Metro Kids, Atlanta Parent,Dallas Child, Great Lakes Family, Family Times and Space Coast Parent and websites including

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