What Are Sparks?
I have talked about children’s ‘SPARKS’ in numerous articles and in my book, Becoming A Present Parent. In fact, the issue of Sparks came up in last week’s comments – Can Children LOVE Learning? What’s a Spark, you may ask? Well, a Spark is anything that a child says or does that lets you know they’re interested in something right now. Sparks are valuable regardless of how you choose to educate your children.
My daughter Kate is not a homeschooling mom. However, last year, due to Covid, she became one. It isn’t something she plans to continue doing. But she, like most moms, is interested in teaching her children about life, core values, people, events, and other worthwhile topics. This type of learning occurs well in the family and home. Recently, Kate shared a person of interest with her children, Tessa and Elliott – Lily Hevesh, @hevesh5 a well-known domino artist. Elliott and Tessa have been in love with dominos for years. Tessa and Elliott were intrigued by this woman artist and what she had accomplished. For well over an hour, they worked on their own domino creations. My daughter sent me photos and included these words – ‘Light a spark and watch it burn!’ I loved it because those are my words. I didn’t even know she was paying attention to them. : )
If we keep our eyes open, we will notice what interests our children. We will see what is ‘sparking ‘them right now. That is the thing to hone in on and help your children with, whether it is getting materials they need, teaching them about a famous person who also has that Spark, or giving them space to experiment and create a mess.
HOW TO SEE SPARKS
A. Be Present. Do you want to know the number one way to see and hear your child’s Sparks? BE PRESENT. When we’re Present in all the mundane moments of a family’s day, we will see and hear what we may have missed up until now.
It’s hard to see Sparks if your head is filled with your schedule or if you’re engrossed in your technology. It’s hard to ‘see’ if you’re trying to avoid becoming involved or prevent a mess. You can’t see if you’re so busy working that the Spark appears to be an irritation or problem.
B. Ask good questions. You can jump-start your ability to see your children’s Sparks by asking yourself questions:
• What activity do you have to make them stop doing to get them to eat or go to sleep?
• What activity are they doing when they seem most engaged and alive?
• When they get to choose what to do on a free afternoon, what activity do they choose?
• What did they love to do when they were three years old? Five years old?
• What are they currently doing that bugs you?
• What do they do that’s making a mess?
• What do they collect?
C. Have mini-conversations.
• Share your Sparks, and they may share theirs
• Say “You’re very good at this”
• Say “You seem interested in this”
• Say, “This appears to make you happy/excited.”
• Ask, “Have you ever thought of . . . .”
• Say, “I had a great day today.”
• At dinner, ask “What was the best part of your day?” and have each person share