By SARAH ABRAHAM-OWOSENI
“One exceptional quality of intentional parents is their desire to identify specific gifts/abilities their children possess so that they can maximize and put their children on the right path.” – Olukemi Sarah
Are you one of these parents or would you also become a parent soon, then you should come along with me.
When I was younger, the society I grew up in had a narrow view of what represented gifts, talents and abilities (GTA).GTAs were often summarized into the ability to sing or play a musical instrument, dance or act. However, is that all?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a Gift as a natural ability or talent. Interesting, let’s find out what an ability/talent is. A talent is a natural ability or skill. Ability is talent, skill or proficiency in a particular area. We can conclude that everyone has a GTA because there is something everyone is skilled in; it is an area of strength. What makes a skill become a treasure that we all call Gift is the development of an identified skill.
Children all have gifts, and our ability to observe and identify them early on is what makes the difference. A particular memory I had of my nephew when he was between 1 and 2years was that he loved drumming so much. At a particular season, he turned everything he could place his hands on into drum sets: pots, bowls and TV studio sets were his favourite. He was simply having fun, but his interests were observed. Are there some things you have observed about your child?
My toddler has different interests per time. When I spend time with him, I intentionally pay attention to his interests and what I have discovered is that there is usually a pattern to his interests. At a time, he is just interested in opening and closing different objects; bowls, cups, doors. At another time, I have also observed him putting items in and out of his favourite baskets. It may be too early to conclude that he is skilled with his hands. However, I have armed myself with critical skills in identifying his GTA: knowledge and observation. These are skills parents and everyone who works with children need.
“No child suddenly turns into a superstar in a field. Someone must have observed his skill and invested resources (time, energy, money) to refine them.”
The understanding of child development stages and developmental milestones is fundamental. It gives the basis of what children should be able to do per time across different developmental areas (physical, emotional/social, cognitive/intellectual, language). With the knowledge foundation of what children should do per time, you can then move on to the next phase of observing your child.
Observation requires intentionality and focus. When you observe, you take notes. I have a note on my phone where I record my children’s interests and areas I believe make them exceptional. The more you observe, the better you are able to see key features that stand out. What do you do with an outstanding skill? You refine it to make it more valuable. If for instance, I observe that my daughter loves to draw and paint on any/every surface, it would be counter-productive to yell at her or stop her. I would instead provide and furnish a corner in her room where she can have all her painting activities. I would get materials she can work or play with (play is work): papers, coloured pencils, crayons, water/poster colour, coloured markers, pencils, glue, brushes and an easel. That would be providing an environment for her skill to flourish.
Another step would be to provide exposure to children to identify their skills. My husband strongly advocates for this; he believes children should be given opportunities of exposure to different activities in the bid to identify what skills they may have. If children are not given exposure, how will their GTAs be identified?
There are lots of online and offline activities in school and outside school holding at weekends and holiday periods. Rather than making those breaks for more academic work, children can be enrolled in children development club, arts & crafts club, music lessons, coding class, swimming or dancing lessons.
We have identified that all children have a gift, talent or ability. One way to look at GTAs is to have a broad view of what they could look like. I particularly love the theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner, a Harvard Psychologist. He differentiates human intelligence rather than looking at intelligence or skill as a single general ability. Personally, I have come to identify my areas of intelligence as intra-personal and logical with a little of visual intelligence.
Take a good look at the image. Are you able to identify an area of skill for yourself and your child?
In summary, all children have gifts, talents or abilities. As a parent, you should:
- Seek knowledge
- Observe your child
- Develop their skills
- Deploy their GTAs
Are there some GTAs you have observed in your children? Care to share with us in the comment section?
Sarah Abraham-Owoseni is an Early Childhood Educator and Parenting Coach. She helps parents raise children with core skills and godly values to form a strong foundation for life. She is the Children Development Director at Young Breeds Children and Youth Development Centre which houses Young Breeds Development Initiative and Young Breeds Schools where she serves as the co-founder and Centre Director