Being passionate about anything from swimming to reading to studying, about anything at all, means that we want to share that passion with someone. Parents want to share that passion with their kids and usually as soon as possible. When’s the right time to start?
I know the feeling. I wanted my daughters to swim and read and learn about everything from day one.
But I’m starting to discover a balance in my own way of exposing them and working with them on swimming and reading and learning. The first big discovery for me was that I want them to be life long enjoyers of all the things that they’re passionate about.
Really, that’s one discovery and one revelations. I want them to be life long swimmers and learners that jump in the water with their dad to go swim a few miles when they’re 15, 25, and 50+ and people that I swap books with until I die. That was a discovery. It was a revelation that I want them to have their own life long passions even if they don’t share mine.
Swimming out in the wave in La Jolla Cove in CA, I talked with my fellow swimmer about swimming with his kids out in the open water. It was impossible to keep pictures out of my head of my little girls out there with me exploring and playing. I want that.
But all this really gets around to the big question, do we push kids to start reading and swimming when they’re little? From the get go?
No, I think they’ll learn when they’re ready. Not every life long learner began reciting their ABCs by four, and not every mathematician could easily solve a quadratic by six. When they start does not determine how far they can or will go.
There were four relay swimmers at ages 88, 90, 91, 93 that set a record. Swimming at that age is deeply impressive, but even more than that, they set records in the 400 and 800 free relays. Other life long open water swimmers didn’t start until they were in their fifties.
Exposing kids isn’t the same as forcing kids.
It’s an art of play verses work, and when I go to the pool with my girls I am going to play with them and have fun. When I read to them, I’m going to read to her for fun. I’m going to play games where they learn and have fun at the same time.
When it’s time, I’ll help them push themselves to learn more faster and work harder not because I’m passionate, but because they are.