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Most kids and teens have very particular hobbies and extracurricular interests. Some love to read, others love sports. Then there are the avid gamers, the skateboarders and the writers. The list could go on and on, because every kid is different.

There are many interests that parents don’t align with youth but that provide an educational outlet or a unique perspective on the world. For parents looking to round out their child’s interests and encourage an extracurricular avenue that diverts from the norm—in a good way—here are a few unconventional hobbies to introduce into the lives of kids:

  1. Chess. While many associate chess with a proclivity towards math and academia, chess is simply a game of skill and strategy. Chess teaches problem solving and hones planning skills. A player must always anticipate an opponent’s next move and be able to visualize the moves on the board.
  2. Astronomy. Not to be confused with astrology—e.g. horoscopes! Studying the stars, constellations and viewing planets through a telescope helps teach kids about the vastness of our universe. Seeing the depths of space and viewing the many celestial bodies of the universe also help teens understand that we are all part of a larger picture.
  3. Gardening. We live in a fast-paced society and so many families have to rush through a drive-through on the way to the next game, meeting or recital. Planting a garden allows teens and all members of the family to appreciate how our food is grown and harvested. Growing produce also provides clean food while teaching self-sufficiency. To make the endeavor a bit more fun for teens, pick a creative theme for your garden.
  4. Improv. Public speaking is an important skill that can be learned but never taught. Encourage kids to overcome the fear of the public through improv classes and performances. Improv teaches the ability to problem solve and uses imagination. Plus, it’s ok to laugh if you make a mistake.
  5. Role-playing games. Much like improv, games like Dungeons and Dragons encourage an ability to think skillfully. They also encourage imaginative ideas and foster creativity.
  6. Archery. For teens that maybe aren’t athletically inclined but who still want to participate in a sport, pursue archery. The game requires stealth, skill and helps work on hand-eye coordination. Goals can be individualized per each player. Plus, a bow and arrow is absolutely en vogue…thanks to Katniss Everdeen.
  7. Creative fandom. For the teen who loves Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things or any popular franchise, encourage creative expressions of their fandom. Professional make-up artists have celebrated their own obsessive fandom by creating television show themed palettes, brush sets and other cosmetics collections. There are no limits to fandom creativity.
  8. Cosplay and Costumes. For the budding fashion designer, encourage cosplay. Have teens create costumes of their favorite characters to pay homage to a particular show, series or genre. Get really creative by mixing and mashing up characters…like a Jack Skellington Ewok!
  9. Sewing. While sewing has fallen out of popularity, learning how to sew is a fun and useful skill. Those interested in a career in fashion design should know their way around a sewing machine. And learning to quilt and embroider also takes the knowledge up a notch.
  10. Treasure hunting. No, this isn’t about finding a lost treasure…but teaching teens the value of thrift. Thrift store hobbyists have a knack of finding incredible treasures at fantastic prices. And thrifting also is a way to teach teens to be cautious and responsible with their money.

Encourage teens to adopt an out-of-the-ordinary hobby to add an extraordinary element of creativity to their lives. Find a new and unique hobby that speaks to their personality. Unique extracurricular activities help teens seen the world in a diverse light and allows them to branch out of their comfort zones.

Contributor: Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education. You can follow Amy on Twitter.

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