Awakening your child’s inner genius
Keep reading to know how to identify your child’s inner genius and awaken it.
Dr. Thomas Armstrong, an expert in the field of child education and multiple intelligences, visited Singapore recently to speak to parents and educators about the importance of recognising the genius within each child.
I had the privilege of attending this event, which was made possible by Wyeth Singapore.
Understanding that each child is unique
It is important that parents and educators acknowledge and appreciate the unique gifts that lie within each child and find ways of making the learning process more joyous to them.
Dr. Armstrong believes that each child responds to learning in remarkably different ways and that these need to be nurtured.
According to Dr Armstrong:
“When we allow people to develop according to their natural rhythms, and learn in their own unique way, we make it possible for them to achieve a sense of meaning in their lives, and enable them to share their remarkable gifts with the broader culture, thus making the world a better place in which to live.”
What is genius?
What do we classify as genius? Is it merely about excelling in areas like science and mathematics, and having a high IQ?
The truth is, each child is unique in their own right and may not necessarily have the same talents and abilities as those around them.
Dr. Armstrong said, “When most people think about the concept of genius, they think about the elite few; they think about Einstein, Picasso, Mozart, or they think about the person who is very good at taking an IQ test; the person who scored a 150 on an IQ test.
But these concepts of genius are relatively modern. When I use the concept of genius I go back mainly to its ancient usage.
I go back to ancient Rome, where in Roman times it was believed that every citizen had their own genius and that that genius followed them along throughout life. I believe that every child has this genius inside them, and that every child is born with something special.”
Qualities of genius
Dr. Armstrong believes that every child naturally possesses 12 qualities of genius.
Take one look at your child and it’ll be clear that they have all these qualities: curiosity, playfulness, imagination, creativity, wonder, wisdom, inventiveness, vitality, sensitivity, flexibility, humour and joy.
What can shut down this inborn genius?
There are a number of things that could shut down your child’s natural genius qualities. These could be things that happen in the home, school or in popular culture, so a positive home environment plays a big role in developing your child’s genius.
Being part of a dysfunctional family, a disadvantaged family, a fast-track family (a family where the child is pushed to be an overachiever) or a rigid-ideology family (families that are racist) can seriously stifle a child’s genius.
Certain practices in schools can also stifle a child’s natural genius.
Examinations and grading, textbooks and worksheets, and labelling of children who do not conform to the norm are some of these things.
Dr. Armstrong said, “Although testing and grading is very popular in Singapore and the whole of Asia, it does nothing to develop the genius and everything to do with suppressing it. If a kid gets an F on a test paper, they begin to form a very low sense of self.
Also, when children are labelled as ADD or ADHD, they get surrounded by people who see everything they do as wrong and this definitely doesn’t develop genius.”
The media also plays a huge role in stifling a child’s genius.
Things like mind-numbing violence, trivial content, insipid language and stereotypical images give children the wrong sense of reality, and gradually impede all earlier-mentioned qualities of genius they naturally possess.
How do you awaken the genius in your child?
1. (Re)awaken your own genius
Dr. Armstrong said, “If our children are to grow up in a family where learning is considered very important, then we should be learning ourselves. We should be reading more and sharing our learnings with our families.”
2. Provide simple experiences
“It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. It could be walks that you take with your child, where you talk and share ideas about what you see,” said Dr. Armstrong.
3. See genius in many forms
We should recognise genius in many forms other than the traditional IQ. Dr. Howard Gardner developed a theory called ‘Multiple Intelligences,’ in which he said that there are 8 kinds of intelligences.
Two of these are word smart and logic smart – the intelligences IQ tests and schools focus on.
However, there are also the picture smart, body smart, music smart, people smart, self smart, and nature smart intelligences, which schools and examinations do not focus on.
Dr. Armstrong says, “Your child has all 8 of these intelligences. But as they go through life because of the experiences they have, and partly because of genetics, they are going to have preferences toward certain intelligences.
So we have to step away from our own ambitions of who WE want our kids to be and let them be what they were destined to be.”
4. Create a genial climate
Dr. Armstrong believes that the following factors could create an environment that will develop your child’s genius:
– The freedom to choose;
– Open-ended exploration;
– Freedom from judgement;
– Honouring every child’s experience;
– Believing in every child’s experience, and;
– Supporting optimal nutrition.
“We know that when we feed the child, we nourish the brain. These intelligences are all over the brain. So when we nourish our kids, we help them fulfill their educational potential.
There are specific nutrients like DHA that improves brain function, Omega 3 oils that create new connections in the brain, and lutein, which is an antioxidant that improves eyesight. You can find these in supplements like Wyeth formulas, for example,” Dr. Armstrong added.
He concluded his talk at the event by saying, “We should all help awaken the genius in our kids, and tell them they are unique and they could be whatever they wanted to be. If our children grow up believing this, can you imagine what a wonderful world this would be?”
Has your child discovered his or her genius? Let us know what you do to awaken your child’s inner genius by leaving a comment below.