I recently read an article from clinical psychologist, Andrew Fuller, on how to promote the natural genius of our children. In this article, he gives ten tips for parents and teachers. On reflection, Fuller’s tips reminded me of the power of our words and the partnership between parents and the school in the education of our children.
I have summarised these tips below and certainly think they are worth a read:
- Be positive about learning
By taking on hobbies, new courses, and discussing new inventions and ideas, we show our children that learning is interesting and is for everyone. It is important for our children to see that learning is something that adults do too.
- Have a creative corner
Find somewhere in your home for projects, artworks and collections. Setting this up doesn’t need to be expensive. Creative geniuses need somewhere to invent, work and keep ongoing projects.
- Experience + Reflection = Learning
The experiences we have in our lives build our brains. When we involve our children in new and interesting, positive experiences, we stimulate their brain development and give them a larger library of information to draw from.
- Look for strange and weird ways to connect things
Imagination and creativity are often about coming up with ideas that are novel or connected in unusual ways. You can help stimulate this by playing a game where you identify the ways in which different objects are alike. For example, how are the planet Mars and an apple alike? Don’t worry if you don’t have an answer. Genius is more about asking questions than having answers.
- Know that mistakes are opportunities
If you can’t make a mistake, you’ll never do anything new. Help them to realise that we all make mistakes. No one gets everything right the first time they try. In fact, making mistakes is the way we learn.
- Stretch ideas (Copyright Andrew Fuller)
The world seems to encourage people to seek answers (usually from Google) and then stop thinking. Be the antidote to this by helping your child or teen to take ideas and stretch them out, applying them in as many strange ways as they can. This requires parents and grandparents to have a good sense of humour and an enjoyment of the absurd. Geniuses take information from multiple sources, recombine them in new and interesting ways and apply them in unusual settings.
7. Develop concentration
It is hard to imagine attaining success in an area of life if you cannot learn to concentrate. Anyone who has ever learned to ride a bike, play a musical instrument, surf a wave or drive a car knows that concentration is a skill we can improve with practice. Often, children have an affinity to concentrate on a particular thing. Notice what draws their attention and build upon that.
- Help them learn to plan and make decisions
Being able to anticipate what is likely to happen as a result of your actions is an essential life skill. This can be as simple as mapping out different pathways or asking children “What do you think will happen if we did this or that?” Our actions have consequences.
- Don’t just read to children, read with them
Reading with children helps them to gain an interest in new information. Spending time reading with parents and grandparents helps them to see the value in new learning. Genius is about being more interested in the things we don’t know than the things we do know.
Even when children are older, capable readers, occasionally sharing a story, reading out something interesting from the newspaper or reciting a poem, a saying or a song will show them learning is something older people do as well.
- Let them know how incredible they are
These days, we talk of some people being geniuses but have forgotten that everyone has genius. Within each person is an inner genius, an inner passion, an ability and desire that we can unlock and draw out. As parents and grandparents, it is much more important to focus on drawing out potential than focussing on current performance.
One of the things that highly successful people report is that they had someone who believed in them as a child. Also, when asked how they managed to accomplish something remarkable, they often pause and reply that no one ever told them they couldn’t do it.