Enhanced – read by the author

by Kay Chance

by Kay Chance

The Case for Hobbies
About eight years ago I taught myself how to crochet using YouTube videos—just the basics for making some simple throws and scarves. Then after a couple of years I set it aside and didn’t pick it up again until recently.
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I’m dealing with some autonomic system issues. You know that “fight-or-flight” response when adrenaline kicks in? Well, mine will sometimes do that because I stood up or sat down. It acts like a very dramatic toddler at times.

And dramatic toddlers can make you really tired.

Crochet is something I can do when I’m too fatigued to write or read or think too hard. And there’s something meditative about the repetition that seems to naturally calm my overly excitable mini-me. It helps me to relax and feel like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile even when I don’t feel as well as I might wish.

The timing for this seems perfect as we explore the idea of breaking free from a fear of failure in this issue. Hobbies are an excellent way to develop skills while conquering this fear. Why? We tend to be more willing to fail at things we want to learn. The things that bring us joy when we experience success, the things that are fun or relaxing to do, the things that have intrinsic value to us provide a great opportunity to learn naturally and embrace failure as a part of the process.

The Value of Developing Hobbies

A hobby is an activity that you do in your spare time for fun… In the 13th century the word hobby referred to a small horse or a pony. It later came to describe a toy horse—a hobby horse. It’s from the hobby horse that the word’s modern sense of “favorite pastime” evolved. A hobby is something that you do for fun—not money—and you typically do it fairly regularly. Collecting stamps, growing roses, reading—any of these can be hobbies.”


It’s important for our children and teens to explore what they find interesting and fun. Research has shown that hobbies actually improve mental health and reduce stress. They give people a creative outlet, develop useful skills, and make life more enjoyable! Many hobbies also provide a way to give to others and serve our communities.

And, if needed, a hobby can eventually turn into a career or supplemental income. (Of course it’s no longer a hobby then. Which isn’t a problem since there’s always another one to do!)

Lessons from Learning a Hobby

Learning to crochet has taught me about so much more than the actual craft. I tend to be a perfectionist. When I miss a stitch it drives me crazy! I have to stop and decide… will ripping the stitches out be worth the time of redoing them to correct the mistake? Will it even show? When making something that’s a total fail, will I give up? Or will I take what I’ve learned through the failure to become better at my craft?
“We tend to be more willing to fail at things we want to learn.”
This is what I know:
  • Perfection is a myth. Messing up is inevitable, but each mistake is an opportunity to learn. And often mistakes even lead to something better and more interesting.
  • Practice makes (almost) perfect. Although perfection is a myth, that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve quality! But that requires practice. It’s simply not possible to be good at something that we’re not willing to put time into.
  • Perseverance pays off. Having a finished project, playing a sport to the best of our abilities, creating something unique—the feeling of accomplishment motivates us to keep learning, keep moving, and keep improving.
Natural Learning and Hobbies

I’m in awe of all the opportunities we have to learn today! Developing a hobby doesn’t have to be expensive or overwhelming with all of the resources available. Many communities and colleges offer inexpensive classes. Or, you may know of someone who can teach your children a hobby they’ve enjoyed. And of course there’s the library and online courses.

My favorites for learning crochet have been Google, social media, and YouTube. Videos and written instructions for every stitch you can imagine, free patterns, Facebook groups full of people to interact with and ask questions have equipped me with everything I personally need to learn this craft.

But it’s important to realize that certain resources are better than others for your unique children. We all learn in different ways, which is foundational to a “natural learning” mindset. With natural learning we try to get our cues for how we teach and the resources we use from our children. What works best for them? Consider whether your children need a more auditory, visual, or hands-on approach to learning.

Endless Possibilities
How will your children decide what hobby to pursue? It can be a bit overwhelming, so don’t be surprised if they try several before finding one they really love. Exploring is part of the process.

Hobbies often fall into some bigger categories, and that’s a great way to start thinking about them. This is by far not an exhaustive list! Just Google hobbies and you’ll be amazed at how many possibilities there are.

  • Art: Painting (many different kinds), drawing, photography, sculpture, calligraphy, diamond painting
  • Computer Based/Technical Activities: Graphic design, motion graphics, animation, videography, coding, podcasting
  • Crafting: Origami and other paper crafts, leatherwork, woodwork, metalworking, jewelry making
  • Kitchen Creations: Baking, cake or cookie decorating, cooking (some like to specialize in a specific type of method or even culture), grilling
  • Needle Arts: Embroidery, crochet, knitting, sewing, quilting
  • Outdoor Activities: Hiking, mountain climbing, rappelling, camping
  • Sports/Physical Activities: Golfing, tennis, running, dancing, gymnastics, team sports, yoga (or some other type of exercise)
  • Writing: Music, graphic novels, non-fiction, news articles, short stories, novels, blogs

Sit down and brainstorm some ideas with your kids!

Children can go as deep and specialized as they want with hobbies. For example, when I began to crochet, I did a lot of throws in simple stitches. Now I’m excited to learn so much more. New stitches, Amigurumi, wearables like hats and cardigans, more complex patterns. Hobbies will grow with your children. What a gift of lifelong learning!

Consider adding learning about a hobby to your homeschool this year. Your children will learn so much more than how to do the hobby itself. And don’t forget—modeling is a powerful teaching tool. You may want to learn a hobby, too!
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Kay Chance headshot

ay Chance homeschooled her children for fifteen years. While teaching them, she discovered a passion for writing and developing curriculum resources. She loves sharing natural learning methods and creative lesson ideas with other homeschooling parents. Kay is the co-executive editor of Homeschooling Today magazine and the author of the older extensions for the Trail Guide to Learning series. She makes her home in Texas with her husband Brian.