July 13, 2016

Growing a Summer Crop of Genius Qualities: Part 1

If we understand that each and every person has been imbued with 12 inherent genius qualities, we as parents will ideally desire to encourage the growth and development of those qualities in our kids each and every day. We’ll actively seek ways for our kids to “exercise” the qualities and will aim to minimize – and undo if necessary – any paralysis of them. As with identifying and developing our kids’ manifestations of the eight great smarts, seeing the opportunities almost becomes second nature if we do it regularly enough.

And it really goes without saying that growing kids’ genius qualities can’t be a seasonal event. It would, in fact, be wrong to relegate them to a mental/emotional shelf from September through May, thinking kids must forgo them in order to trudge through schoolwork – and, frankly, if we see that happening, we owe it to our kids to step in and take strong action. But summer – even for those who don’t follow the typical “school schedule” – often feels different. Summer seems looser, more carefree, and less rigid by design, so this might be the perfect time to more consciously choose to watch for ways to promote the genius qualities.

With that in mind, I thought I’d take this issue and the next to provide a few thoughts about each quality, hoping that you’ll choose to turn a couple of scattered seeds into opportunities specifically meaningful to your own children:

Curiosity: Trips to the beach, camping excursions, and even treks up to the corner ice cream shop provide obvious fodder for encouraging kids’ curiosity, which we define as “asking questions others judge as irrelevant.” While we may not know every answer and/or may choose to encourage a child’s personal initiative in researching a matter on his own, let’s choose to avoid shutting down the questions. If a child is asking – why the sky is blue, why moss grows only on one side of the tree – it’s relevant to his mind and heart, and it’s our job to nurture that.

Playfulness: Playfulness develops when kids have unstructured time. Unfortunately, though, current realities often necessitate too much structure for today’s kids; many attend daycare all summer long and parents are (understandably) wary of allowing them to roam the neighborhood. But for the sake of playfulness, let’s challenge ourselves into allowing as much freedom as possible. When our kids are home, let’s avoid regimenting every moment; instead, let’s give them the choice they don’t get in daycare. And let’s at least give them free reign of our fenced yards, allowing them decide on their own what to do there each day, unencumbered by our continuous suggestions about “organized games.”

Imagination: Allowing kids to express their curiosity and giving them time for open-ended playfulness undoubtedly spur imagination. So will reading aloud – something we should do every day of each child’s life, even during the teen years – as well as setting aside a portion of each day (all year round) for independent readers to do so on their own, and limiting screen time. Simply put, we make room for kids’ brains to nurture imagination when we guard against providing too many pre-fabricated images for them.

Are you curious now about the other nine seeds? We’ll see about planting them in our next issue!

Photo Credit: TumblingRun

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