This blog post has been written by Colleen Carroll, EdD, a children’s leadership expert and family consultant.
Have you ever met a young child who has surprised you by his intelligence, or amazed you at her linguistic skills? Maybe you thought certain children are just “born that way”. YOU have the power to support your child in attaining incredible skills by following our expert’s fundamental tips for guiding lifelong learning.
“Building” genius characteristics in a child is possible. Even though this pursuit requires time, energy, and commitment, it is an exciting journey with amazing long-term benefits. Every child is clever, creative, and able to learn. Each has an incredible capacity to absorb information and immediately use it. As a parent-educator, your ability and persistence to capitalize on this is significant. It can make the difference between the development of average aptitude and abilities or extraordinary intelligence and talents. The earlier you begin the better, but it is never too late in a child’s life to start.
Set the Foundation
The foundation step of building a genius is critically important. As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher, and throughout his life you will be the most important and influential teacher he has. You can help build the foundation of your child’s future talents and successes by introducing him to various subjects, activities, and concepts right from the start. Provide your young child with engaging activities to help develop his or her mind every day. Literacy activities are especially beneficial to support emerging readers and eventually create an interest in books. Try finger painting letters in bright colors on chart paper, or cutting out print from cereal boxes and favorite snacks and pasting them on card stock for children to “read”. Or for a musical experience, find objects around the house that make fun noises and create your own instruments to play. A coffee can turned over makes a terrific drum, while rice inside a plastic food storage container is a makeshift maraca. With a little ingenuity, you will begin to see learning experiences everywhere.
As he grows, let your child’s natural abilities unfold and his interests develop by fostering age-appropriate interactions with sports, crafts, musical instruments, and academic studies. Study your child. Does your son start dancing when music plays? Can he keep a beat with his hands? Maybe your daughter has a good arm with a ball, or is fast on her feet. These are signs of early development in music and physical ability, for example, and will become apparent at a very young age if you pay attention.
Be aware of gender biases by being true to your child’s actual interests. As these take shape and skill sets develop, cultivate continued opportunities to engage your child in the ones he gravitates towards and where he displays natural gift. Research shows that spending ample time on an activity is the one true way to improve that area. Practice really does make perfect. However, what you practice is the critical element. The Pre-K Success Kit offers hours of fun skill building activities. Build a child’s foundation by providing him with myriad opportunities—and then support the ones he enjoys and where talent is evident.
Make it Fun
The practice of enhancing genius-skills should be entertaining. Make it a priority for the whole family to enjoy the process. This may seem like a simple step but it is not one to overlook. You have certainly noticed that when a child is enjoying a game, it keeps his attention riveted. However, as soon as the fun ends, he is on to another pursuit. Be sure to create an element of excitement for long-term engagement. Consider hands-on play that supports learning and fine motor skills, such as building with Lego’s, Lincoln Logs or any other fine motor skills product. Help develop early math skills by providing gear, mosaic or tangram puzzles for geometric and spatial awareness. With toys that offer mental stimulation, your child’s mind will be productively challenged and connect fun with learning.
Be intentional about where your family chooses to spend time, who your child spends time with and what your child spends time doing. Make the most of the valuable moments you have together in these early years. Plan activities and experiences that build “genius” characteristics for a life-long learner. Set time aside each day or week to introduce and engage your child in new activities and subjects. The added bonus to these efforts is the development of a strong bond with your child and memories that will last a lifetime.