How Essential is Skill Building And Developing Hobbies For Children (online or offline)
“What if I fall, mama?
Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”
Children are inquisitive. They are explorers, discovering the world around them and in awe of almost everything new. In today’s times, it could be the online world inside a computer or more likely a parent’s phone. The Universe has its ways to impart children with naturally developed skills. You will see a small 3 year old fearlessly picking up worms, or a 10 year old standing in front of the mirror imitating his father’s speech, a little girl looking at the phone trying to imitate a quick makeover and look as beautiful like her mother. As parents, we often overlook these little activities but if you look deeper, you will see your child igniting their interests and trying to develop themselves in ways that are novel and intriguing to them. As parents our role is to hold the child’s hand and gently nudge them towards developing their inner strengths and skills. We help them to overcome their fears and try something new both online and offline, as today, online world is an inseparable part of our lives.
Development Beyond What You See
Hobbies may seem like a good way to keep your child engaged but these interests and activities go a long way in your child’s overall development.
Skill building starts at a very young age with hand-eye coordination. It's the ability to coordinate vision with fine motor skills. Although this may seem like something for really small babies, but activities like catching a ball, joining blocks, playing racquet games, doing jigsaw puzzles, sometimes online easy ball games can all be hobbies and activities that develop hand-eye coordination.
In a broad definition, cognitive development refers to how a person understands and perceives information received through the various senses. Every activity a child does, benefits their cognitive development in some way or the other. There are 8 basic cognitive skills which are inhibited in a child through skill building activities.
Attention: Hobbies and activities presented to a child in an organized manner help to increase their attention span. Games like chess for example, teaches a child focus and concentration.
Response Inhibition: An activity that can grasp a child’s attention to such a level that they are not easily distracted, is how they learn to respond to disturbances.
Information processing: This is how a child understands and processes information imparted to him/her while learning a new skill.
Cognitive Flexibility: This is a child’s ability to change their way of thinking and analyze different perspectives.
Multiple Simultaneous Attention is how your child learns to multitask and pay attention to different things at the same time.
Working Memory is when a child retains an information till the task is performed. A simple life activity like remembering a phone number till we dial it is developed through increased working memory.
Category Formation is the ability to organize concepts, ideas and information into separate categories. This reflects later in abilities like application, analysis and evaluation of concepts and skills. Category formation also helps in learning different languages.
Pattern Recognition is the ability of the brain to find reasoning and logical explanations to things. This helps in learning and increasing memory power.
There are flash cards, board games, online games following best practices for kids and various activities that help the emotional development of a child. A game could teach them self control while an acting class will teach them to express their feelings through words and gestures. Music, speech classes, instruments can teach your child to listen and pay attention while a jigsaw puzzle or building something will give them pride in their accomplishments. Learning a new artform or giving a hobby their best, helps the child in building a positive self image. If a small child is fond of pets or likes to read to his old grandparents, if an older child likes to participate in a social cause, all these activities teach them about empathy, affection and awareness. Though there is a lot of difference when learnt physically in human presence and learnt online via online learning platforms. Today there are many such buzzing online platforms that are quickly taking place in the households and the reach of learning from desired mentors have widened. Emotional development thus also has a different kind of notion in this “online” daily life.
Other than these physiological developments, any skill building activity or hobby, whether a group activity or individual one, helps a child to develop their social skills. Group activities, team sports encourage your child to be amicable and work as a team. It also inculcates leadership qualities and team building skills. It teaches life skills like self-awareness, critical thinking and decision making, increases problem solving capabilities along with creative instincts. Your child learns to cope with stress and emotions while elevating interpersonal relationships. They experience communication with people of different ages, cultures and backgrounds. Separating right from wrong, making right choices, enhancing self-skills are all part of this growth process. Keeping your child busy with activities that make them happy and productive, will help in the mental well-being of your child. If your child is hyper or aggressive, puzzles or music can soothe the nerves and calm him/her down. An art form can make your child more focussed and directional. Hobbies also inculcate discipline in children. To add to this entire behavorial aspect of hobbies and skills, it has also been noted that certain discipline is still missing when a child learns online. Learning online gives them the freedom to stop the training at their will and come back anytime they want. This may not be the case when they are learning in person. But there are some online buzzing platforms that are trying to bring in these discipline building activities separately and trying to instil an idea into the Emotional Development zone to better the LIFE SKILLS.
When Play Becomes Work
Once a child finds an activity they are passionate about, it not only helps in personality development but could sometimes become a professional choice. Their childhood hobby and skill becomes their work and work that gives them joy will only see the path of success.
Be an example to your child. Teaching skill building and encouraging hobbies can be a bonding experience for the family where you either do things together or attend every game or recital to show them how proud they make you. Hobbies are no longer just a means to keep the child engaged on their own. Traditional hobbies like stamp or coin collection can actually turn into a family heirlooms. So make the most of this time to help your child venture into the big wild world with confidence and talent.
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Priti Bose for WondrYears