I had a great conversation at pick up the other day with a couple whose son comes to the school this year. As with all great conversations, I could not remember how it started but somehow we were talking about my two children who both attended the Cooperative School many years ago. I was describing how they are both at age 21 and 24 doing what they are passionate about and seem very happy with their current choices in life. My son is graduating college and working to become a director/producer/writer in television and the movies. My daughter has graduated college and is working in a curator's office in a museum learning the art of display, accessions, and installations. Both live away from home and we speak and Skype with them often. I was describing how my husband and I both have encouraged them as they have grown up and away to do what they are passionate about.
The couple I was speaking to mentioned that they talk to each other often about how they are not necessarily doing what they are passionate about and wonder how they got to where they are. They get to the end of each week and wonder why they are doing what they do to make a living. They seemed mystified and reflective. Are they products of a culture, an environment, a society that expects that they will pursue a vocation not a passion? Can they or will they ever make a change to follow their passions and interests?
We agreed that I and the other teachers here are doing what we are passionate about. We love our work, we love it passionately. We appreciate working with children and families as partners and mentors. Our days are full of laughter, insight, learning and body fluids – and even that we laugh about most of the time! We play, we learn, we teach, we share, we help, we are helped and we constantly start anew like the children we share our days with.
Children do what they are passionate about – it may be cars and trucks. It may be drawing, it may be talking, socializing and sharing. It may be puzzles, word searches, or dress up. It might be dragonflies or country music or little Lego people. Our job as teachers and parents is to recognize and honor the passions and encourage them in the children we share. We need to give them the tools of their passions: open-ended toys, puzzles, games, opportunities to play, talk, share and create. We need to help them co-create their passions by providing them the experiences and supporting them in every goal and endeavor.
Listen to the children, listen for what they are interested in, what makes them passionate and interested and therefore interesting. It may be different than what makes you passionate and that is what is so cool about parenting: watching them grow up into the people they are going to be. My preschool parents often say, “I don't ever want them to grow up – I love them so just the way they are!” I say, I love my twenty somethings as much as I loved them as preschoolers. They are even more interesting and more fun as adults and it is so wonderful to watch them enter the world with that passion and energy and an endless belief that they can do anything they want to, just like they believed when they were preschoolers!