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Nurture interests outside the classroom


Outside of school, Ruth and Mike Huggler of Liberty have encouraged their son Ben to follow his interests wherever they might take him. In second grade he was accelerated to grade four. Now in high school, Ben has spent four years playing soccer for both school teams and a weekend league, something he gave up in high school in favor of involvement in the science club.


Playing sports can be an important part of growing up, Ruth says, and she was happy to oblige Ben when he made the request.


“You’re testing yourself, not to mention it’s good physical activity,” she explains. “Going to other schools, meeting players on other teams, you also have an opportunity to get away and get perspective.”


These days Ben gets that perspective as an active Boy Scout and member of the co-ed Venturing Crew sponsored by the Scouts.


“Growing up in these rural areas can be seen as a disadvantage,” Ruth notes. “Some of these kids have never been outside of the county, never seen how it can be outside of their own hometown.


“It’s important for them to know what’s out there so they can dream big,” she says. “If he was interested in something that was coming up or there was something we thought he’d be interested in, we’d find a way to make it happen.”


For Ben that’s meant finding a way to ensure he can take part in soccer, band, Scouts and science club over the years.


Other parents have to look to their kids to decide what’s most important in their lives, what they can make happen.


“You look at their interests, look at what you can surround them with,” suggests Blakey. “Give them a lot of different experiences – you just don’t know where that interest is gong to take your child.”


Huggler’s best advice?


“Don’t let them get stagnant,” she said. “Be involved. Know what your kids’ limits are and help them deal with those frustrations.


“It’s easy to let them drift into being complacent – especially if there aren’t programs to help them.”


Jeanne Sager is a mom to Jillian and writer and photographer from Callicoon Center

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