July 26, 2016

Growing a Summer Crop of Genius Qualities: Part 2

Last time we talked about how summer might be a good season in which to be especially mindful of helping our kids develop their inherent genius qualities. I described then a few ways in which we might facilitate curiosity, playfulness, and imagination, and I’ll share ideas about the other nine qualities now:

Creativity & Inventiveness: My younger daughter has developed a keen interest in sewing over the last couple of years, but she doesn’t like using patterns. Instead, she prefers brainstorming her own ideas, and trying her hand at cutting, pinning, and sewing her very own designs. When she’s experimenting, she buys heavily discounted fabric to avoid waste, and it’s been a process of trial and error – one dress required extensive alterations and a few t-shirts were unsalvageable. But she’s already created several beautiful pieces and has simultaneously stretched her perseverance and self-confidence right along with growing her creativity and inventiveness. What would spark such passion in your child?

Wonder & Vitality: Summer is the perfect time to engage kids’ innate astonishment about the natural world, as well as their ability to use their senses in response to it. In and around the small metro area in which I live, I can list in just minutes at least half a dozen easily accessible places where my kids can interact with all sorts of animals – everything from chickens to lions – and several others where they can hike nature trails or study plants in more depth. A simple internet search would yield even more venues, and I’m confident you can do the same. Why not arrange for your kids to interact with nature just once a week for the rest of the summer?

Sensitivity & Wisdom: Earlier this year, my girls and their friends baked several dozen cookies, most of which we subsequently delivered to a local homeless shelter. One of my daughters volunteered at a kids’ camp last week, and friends’ kids have organized Good News Clubs for neighborhood children. In fact, service is probably the best way to help kids of all ages develop openness to and understanding of others – absent preconceived notions and clich├ęs. In what ways would your children like to serve? Ask them.

Flexibility & Humor: It goes without saying that breaking out of our usual routine enables us to see things differently, yielding an “aliveness” that facilitates humor as well as an ability to make out-of-the-ordinary associations and connections. In fact, that’s probably why we idealize summer, since we tend to alter our usual routines at least part of the time. But we must consciously choose to really “get away” instead of bringing “regular life” with us. So what about arranging a technology-free vacation? Bring one family phone for emergencies, and take a few pictures to commemorate each day. But you really can decide to keep individual phones at home, eschew social media and web browsing, and wait to post photos until you return. The more you internally balk at this notion, the more likely you really need it.

Joy: Joy naturally resonates anytime a person gains new insight or masters a skill. Thus, we can’t really help our kids “practice” joy the way we can the other genius qualities; instead, it bubbles up on its own when the other qualities thrive. So, since we all wish joy for our kids, why not consciously endeavor to aid and abet the growth of curiosity, playfulness, imagination, creativity and imagination, wonder and vitality, sensitivity and wisdom, and flexibility and humor over the next weeks? Planting and nurturing those seeds will surely yield a rich, long-term harvest.

Photo Credit: TumblingRun

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