Sunday, September 19, 2010

Goldilocks Part Two, Discovering Giftedness

There are really two parts to discovering your child’s giftedness, otherwise known as "proper porridge finding” from the Goldilocks Principle on September 16. First, we discover, celebrate, and value each child’s uniqueness. Second, we help find classes and activities that fit.

Remember that this is a lifetime process (aren’t we all still discovering these things?). Most important is helping a child understand that he or she is gifted and that there is porridge out there that will taste good to each child. Sometimes we never get the porridge just right, but getting closer and closer encourages children to keep going that way.

Let me suggest some tools that you can use to help your child discover gifts. Here are some things to do and watch to help understand each child’s uniqueness:

Try. A moving ship can be directed by a small rudder. Help your child try a wide array of classes and activities recognizing that all won’t fit—he or she may even fail! But if you don’t try, you'll never know. Your child doesn't need to wait for someone else. You can introduce him to hiking, bike repair, reading, chess, serving the hungry, and a multitude of other activities.

Tests. Take advantage of evaluative instruments like Strengthsfinder, Do What You Are, spiritual gift inventories, personality tests, school testing that has career insights like Explore by ACT—any testing that your school or church has. You can find many others in books and online.

Terrific. What does your child do well? Note not only class grades, but the specific methods and parts of a class where she does well. And consider the huge realm of activities and work outside of class in the “real” world. Volunteering and working give chances to find these things.

Terror. Of what is your child scared to death? This is probably not his or her strength.

Tantalizing. What attracts your child? What sidetracks him from getting the things done he needs to do? What passions does he have and with what can you entice him?  (Eating probably isn't a gift, though!)  These attractions may point to gifts.

Tributes. What do people notice in your child? Help her value what people say she does well and celebrate it, even if she pretends it isn’t a “big deal.”

Time. When does he lose track of time because he is so absorbed (video games, TV, and showers don’t count!). On what does your child like to spend time? This is likely a strength.

Trials. What trials has your child withstood? What has she learned about herself and the strengths God gave? Often strengths show and grow when things are hard. Instead of just seeing the cloud, look for light on what can be learned.

Most important: just help your child find something he or she loves. And, if you can’t help him or her find the right porridge, know it is out there and that he or she is unique and gifted. Life can be tough. Having the hope of something that brings joy and purpose keeps children going, being a braveheart.

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