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“Our job as parents is to help our child discover her spark, awaken it, nurture it, celebrate it, make room for it.”—Peter L. Benson

It’s exciting to think of parenting as awakening your child’s spark, and it’s important to your child’s well-being too. Keep the spark going in your family by trying the simple steps below.

Sparks For Young Children

  • Find books with characters in them who are discovering their sparks. Some examples:
  • The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart, 1997, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

    Weslandia, by Paul Fleischman, 1999, Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick

    Strong to the Hoop, by John Coy, 1999, New York: Lee and Low

    Jamaica Louise James, by Amy Hest, 1996, Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick

    Sparks For Older Children and Tweens

  • Have a family movie night to watch Akeelah and the Bee(2006) together (rated PG for some language). Discuss how Akeelah finds her spark and who her spark supporters are.
  • Talk with them about which of their friends support their sparks, and what their friends’ sparks are.
  • Sparks For Middle-Schoolers

  • Help them connect their sparks to enliven their school experience. For example, a student whose spark is math could:

    • Read a biography of a famous mathematician
    • Study the history of math’s development in Egypt and elsewhere
    • Use proportions, ratios, and patterns in creating artworks
    • Seek uses of mathematics in a daily newspaper or a magazine
    • Explore the use of math in music
    • Create polls and resulting statistics for the school newspaper or yearbook

    Sparks For High-Schoolers

  • Help your teens connect the idea of sparks to their plans for the future.
  • While sparks may be hobbies or side interests, they can also become a career. For some ideas, see the Search Institute book for teens, Life Freaks Me Out: And Then I Deal with It; several chapters speak to finding your passions and finding work that you love to do.