Remember growing up, if you don’t come first in class you were in trouble. Your parents would ask questions like “Does that girl/boy have two heads?”
Growing up, we were labeled using terms that indicated how “dumb” or “smart” and most our parents believed this because it was from schools. Schools’ main source of evaluation was a student’s ability to perform on paper. This had many problems and limitations.
Fortunately, today we recognize that there are many different types of intelligence and many different ways that children can express their abilities.
Does your child like to design things, look at maps, draw or doodle?
Your child might have a budding career as an architect or graphic designer.
Does your child love to interact with people?
Your child might have a career in sales, leadership, or politics in store for them.
Does your child prefer self-directed activities and appears introverted?
Your child might be a gifted writer or thinker. Consider enrolling them in a creative writing program or encouraging them to start a collection.
Does your child think in abstract sense, likes explore connections between things and people?
Your child might have a career as a scientist or mathematician in store.
Does your child demonstrate a fascination with music?
Consider enrolling your child in music lessons or have them join chorus or band at school.
Does your child like to build things by hand, and can they use their hands with precision?
Children who have bodily-kinesthetic intelligence might be good things where they can use their hands or physically build things. They might be great surgeons, mechanics, or sculptors.
Does your child have linguistic intelligence?
People with linguistic intelligence demonstrate a high command of language and words. They can articulate ideas well, can learn by listening and reading, and often enjoy communicating with others. Try not to confuse linguistic intelligence with a troublesome child who talks back. They might just be trying to learn or communicate.
Children who are linguistic learners might like writing and reciting poetry, public speaking, or reading.
Your child might be a budding politician or poet.
Because kids pick and drop different activities as they grow, it’s not always that easy to know what their gifts and passions are. Helping your child discover their abilities is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.
In discovering your child’s abilities, let’s first establish that your child will not always want what you want. As a parent there may be something you’ve always loved, but never got to do or something you’re great at that you want to share with your kids.
Not all kids will take after their parents in terms of what talents or interests they possess. Every child is an individual and each one comes with his/her own unique desires and interests. Not to allow him/her to express them would be a disservice to your child.
Good news is, we’ve brought to you a couple of things that can help in this journey of discovery:
Talk to your child’s educators or caregivers
No matter what grade your child is in (daycare, pre-K or K-12), your child’s teachers and other supervisory figures can give you a great idea of your child’s interests and abilities. After all, teachers and caregivers (depending on the environment) might spend more time in an educational and mentoring capacity with your child than you.
- Schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher or caregiver.
- Ask them about your child’s interest and abilities.
- Ask them if they think there is a reason why your child excels in one area or does not excel in another.
Expose your child to a variety of different activities
Remember at the end of the day your child is going to be his/her own person no matter what it is that you have pictured for him/her. Do your best not to limit your children to what is comfortable and familiar to you. If you grew up playing sports, it’s natural to get your children involved in sports, but that may not be their interest or gift.
This is not to say that you cannot make suggestions but try not to be too pushy about any one thing. Try other activities as well. Search your local community for activities that may be available. Open your mind and your child’s mind to lots of possibilities.
Stay tuned into your child’s world
Listen to whatever your children might be telling you regarding their interests. Children will talk incessantly about what interests them. Even if it doesn’t interest you, listen anyway.
And listen to what your children are saying about what they don’t like. If they don’t like sports or music, they have given you valuable information about themselves. Listen to the subtle clues you receive as well. A child that loathes practicing music is probably not very interested in playing an instrument.
Is your child better alone or at play with others? Watching your child to see what interests him/her is a great way to help you determine what it is you think your child may excel at.
Don’t be afraid to let something go
Your child may try different activities for awhile, and then decide he or she doesn’t like them. Even if your child excels at an activity, it is okay to let that activity go. Unless you notice a chronic habit of starting and stopping, it is totally okay to try things out and find out it’s not your cup of tea.
Let your child take the lead
It’s always a good idea to let your child take the lead when it comes to choosing her passions and talents. Your role is to be her coach or guide. You can make suggestions based on what you are seeing and hearing from your child. You can encourage your child’s talents and passions and expose your child to different activities. However, it’s up to your child to know whether he wants to participate on a long term basis or not.
Each of your children is a unique individual, designed perfectly by God. They have their own set of talents and passions that will grow, and eventually be a gift given to this world in some fashion.
Never Discourage Expression
It is very important to remember that your child could easily be pushed away from something he or she loves if you are not cautious about the way you interact with him/her about specific activities. For example, there are some kids who could sit for hours just drawing caricatures or animals. Instead of scolding, try to look the other way and realize that this is your child’s way of expressing him/her self.
Nurture identified talents
Praise and encouragement will go a long way to developing your child’s recognized talents. Let her know you’re proud of her abilities and show an interest in the subject of her passion whether or not you share it. Look out for opportunities for her to demonstrate her skills to friends and relatives; their support will reinforce yours. Her school teachers may be able to provide openings for her talents, too. But for serious development, you may need to invest in private tuition and other support such as courses, competitions and equipment.