Your Child’s Special Talents, Part 2


Featured Picture Book

IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT by Andrea Beaty

(Available at your local public library or bookstores, including online stores.)

IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT tells the story of Iggy whose dreams of building buildings started while he was still in diapers – or out of them because he was building with them – which was not at all well received by his mom. Iggy liked to build out of the most unusual things, even “pancakes and coconut pie.” But, the real dream-buster happened for Ig when he went to school. His teacher, Miss Lila Greer, just wouldn’t pay attention to Ig’s unusual talent and desire for building things. “On the very first day, she had this to say. ‘We do not talk of buildings in here!’” Everything changed when one day on a field trip, a bridge collapsed and trapped Miss Greer and her class on a small island. Ig came to the rescue using his leadership and building skills to the fullest. From that day on, Miss Greer’s way of teaching completely changed. No longer did she ignore special talents or let her own fears and experiences stand in the way of her students’ dreams.

Parenting Thoughts

What you can do about your child’s talents

Dr. Mom:

1.  Make sure your child has the opportunity to explore his talents or interests to the fullest – even if is messy. Even if it means using things in unusual, unexpected ways – like Iggy did in IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT when he built buildings out of food, diapers, and just about anything he could get his hands on.

2.  Appreciate her interests, even if others don’t. She might not be good enough at things yet, but you can see she wants to be. Sometimes it just takes determination to get there one day.

3.  Think about whether you can get him some lessons or classes. If they are too expensive, maybe there is a volunteer in your neighborhood, at work, or at church who knows a lot about this interest and would share what he knows.

Darling Daughter:  E tends to think she is an expert at something after she has had one set of lessons or classes. She played “soccer” when she was three that was not really soccer. It was “soccer for three-year-olds” which looked very different from real soccer. However, now she says she is a soccer player. J That is probably a whole other blog topic!

4.  Make sure your child has the type of education she will need to follow her dreams. For example, you can’t be an architect without math skills, can’t be a writer without Language Arts skills, and can’t be a scientist without scientific knowledge. When kids realize these school subjects apply to their special interests, school will be much more important to them.

5.  Help your child find other kids to be with that have the same interest or talent as he does – even if they are a little older.

I think this is huge. Not only will E learn new skills the other kids have but she will pick up on their passion, commitment, and determination.

6.  Find ways for your child to be around adults who have the same interest or talent. If you have that talent in your family tree, be sure to share that and put your child in touch with those relatives. It is helpful for children to know they get their talents and interests “naturally” – that there is a reason they are the way they are.

What if your child’s dreams don’t come true?

A word of caution about all talents and interests. Your child can always find happiness from his talents, but he may not be able to find a way to make his talents “pay off.” Dreams do need to be based in reality. This is why it is so important to make sure your child has a good, well-rounded education and doesn’t put all his eggs in the one basket of one special interest.

49 SidebarYour child needs a Plan B. For example, for kids who have athletic talent, only one in a million will make it big. Yes, your child needs encouragement to go for it, but he also needs to develop other skills as well. To make a successful career for himself, he may need to be able to apply his interests to other things – perhaps teaching, business opportunities, or innovations.

Besides, there are ways to enjoy your passion without making it a career. Sometimes that even brings more enjoyment. Sometimes without all of the pressures of making a living there is less fame and fortune, but in my book, much more enjoyment.

There are always recreation programs for sports and community arts groups for musicians and artists as ways to keep involved with your interests. I think it is important for E and any child to see adults in their life enjoying their interests and talents whether they are money-makers or not.

Early interests and future careers

People often worry that because a child shows a special interest or talent while young, she will be pigeonholed into a career that won’t really be right for her as an adult. Here’s what they worry about.

Little Janie plays doctor constantly in preschool and at school age watches every medical show she can find on TV. The next thing you know she is being called “Dr. Jane” and pushed along an educational path toward medicine.

Too early, many would say. How do you know she won’t want to be a zoo keeper by the time she’s 25? Look at how many adults are trapped in jobs that are not at all fulfilling to them.

50 Sidebar 1This argument may have had some value years ago, but not so much anymore. A child today will have multiple careers in his lifetime. That is what our fast-changing world demands these days.

Because of this, we can look at the early interests and talents of a child as an important first step to possibly a first career while being a stepping stone to many other different careers as well. In fact, being able to combine that first interest with another and another interest down the road will only make a person more valuable and successful over time.

Good, because I’m working on career #4. J I agree that life changes, and I think that all my careers will culminate into vast experience that will make me successful on my next journey.

 For sure.

“Dr. Jane” can learn a lot about medicine on her path to being a doctor and still become a great anthropologist – because of all that she knows about the human body and the human skeleton. Or, she could become a professional tennis player because she knows so much about how to make her body perform at its best.

Children need to start early to think of careers in terms of many possibilities, not just one. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is no longer the best question. I suggest you ask instead, “What are three things you want to do when you grow up?” It will encourage your child to think he has lots of things he can do in the future. How exciting is that?  If he wants to be both a ballerina and a firefighter – he can.

So, don’t worry about your child thinking of his interests and talents as a career – no matter how young she is. Just make sure she knows that changing her mind is OK – not only just OK, but one more thing that makes her special. All her interests and talents are like building blocks, and how she stacks them up over time will be very different than how anybody else stacks them up – and that will make her a star!

Coming attraction

More about children’s special interests and talents, especially how they connect with their future success in life and in a career. Can you tell now whether your child is going to be an engineer? What’s the best education for your child? Coming on May 15.

Read All About It

Your Child’s Special Talents, Part 1

GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson

SELF ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke

 Surf the Internet:
  • special talents in kids
  • gifted children
  • career awareness for children
  • Plan B

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