We LOVE "phases"!
When one of our children was going through a model train phase my brother reminded me that he's been going through a model train phase for the last 40 years!
During the train phase we read train books, talked about trains, looked at some model train layouts on Youtube, visited model train layouts, played with our wooden train set - we did what we could to "feed the phase". Nothing was forced, it was all quite natural and enjoyable.
A few months later that same child announced, "I'm not going through a model train phase any more - I'm going through a "Trucks with Noses" phase. His bigger brother smiled as he remembered his own "Trucks with Noses" phase. As we were on our way to the library at the time we managed to get quite a few books about big transport trucks - some of which have noses!
I love thinking about how his brain was working during this time. Sitting quietly in the car as we were driving along, thoughts buzzing about trains, and suddenly he saw a big truck - he may have seen the same truck quite a few times before but THIS time his brain did an excited little spark, and the trains were pushed to the back a bit. His brain may have said "Hey! What's this? I LIKE the look of that truck! I wonder if there are more like that?"
As adults, are there times YOU allow your brain to have that excited little spark about a project, an idea, something to research or do? Sadly many people only experience that excitement about buying a new product, and the spark is short-lived ... You don't have to be PERFECT and a PROFESSIONAL to allow yourself to say "I'm going through a phase" (photograph, drawing, mountain biking, crafting) - just have a go, enjoy it, and then move on to the next phase!
I remember many years ago our oldest boys going through lots of lovely phases - the underwater world (with sub-phases that involved deep-sea creatures, shipwrecks, sharks, octopuses etc), invertebrates, space, pirates, pond life, motorbikes, Sonic The Hedgehog, Mario Bros, making comics, marketing ... and that was the start of me learning about how to best deal with phases that our children go through.
So when our daughter bought me a natural gardening magazine and said "I'm going through a "making herbal creams and potions" phase", I had a good idea on how to help her with that.
If your child is going through a phase of being VERY interested in something, then do what you can to encourage it WITHOUT KILLING THE SUBJECT - which is most horribly done by EXPECTATION! Expectation is the MONSTER that kills much of the joy of learning. The expectation that a certain amount of material will be covered in a certain time; the expectation that a certain amount of materials WILL BE LEARNED despite the lack of interest or maturity of the student to fully grasp the information at that time - I could go on, but if you're reading this blog then you're probably aware of how I feel about that sort of educational method!!
If you choose to buy something to "feed the phase" or equip your child, to enjoy the phase better (like a musical instrument, Lego train set, horse, dinghy, glider, helicopter ride, remote control vehicle ...) then YOU shouldn't be upset with your child when they move on to the next phase and the train set is left on the top of the wardrobe gathering dust.
If YOU liked the train set, get it down to play with it from time to time, it will probably ignite their interest again.
Don't assume that just because the train set is left on the top of the wardrobe that your child has no interest in it any more, many phases come back around, sometimes they've evolved into something slightly different, but if a child has been free to jump as deep as they wish into a phase, and enjoy it until they're naturally ready to move on, then they'll have fond memories of that phase, and may wish to revisit it.
A child who is given freedom to drop a phase and gleefully embrace the next phase will be more likely to absorb a LOT of information and learn many skills which may be quite useful at some point in their lives. That shouldn't be the goal however, and as I mentioned above EXPECTATION can kill phases.
I heard a story once that explained this:
Wife: I see that Becky has started to be interested in painting. Perhaps we can get her some art lessons, and take her to the museum sometime.
Wife: And I heard of an art competition coming up, there is prize money that she could use towards buying more art equipment, that could be really useful, and if she did some really great pieces we could hire a space at the gallery and have a little show for her.
Husband: Just to change the subject a little ...
Wife: (puzzled) Yes?
Husband: You know how you love horses?
Husband: How about we get you some show jumping lessons, enter you in competitions, travel to all the shows and set our sights on winning some cups and then you could even start training others.
Wife: I get your point. I'll ask Becky if she wants to go shopping for some nice paints.
Husband: Good idea.
The thing WE love about phases is that someone gets to be passionate about a subject, and get joy from it - and as long as that joy lasts then encourage, listen to and you enjoy having that phase in your lives.