From the minute your tiny bundle is born, you can begin to see his personality. Children are born with strengths and aptitudes that will help them develop as they grow. As a homeschool parent, being aware of your child’s natural bent can make educating him much easier.
Discovering Natural Talents
You probably already know a lot about your child, but here are some ways to discover more about his natural talents.
Watch His Play
Does your child prefer quiet, individual activities? Or does he gravitate toward loud, boisterous games with groups? Can he spend hours on one specific task, seeing it through to completion, or does he flit from activity to activity, rarely finishing anything? Does he have a good imagination? A sense of humor?
By carefully observing your child, you can learn lot about his learning preferences. And while he will develop and grow and change, many of these preferences will last his lifetime.
Allow your child to pick from an array of true choices. Remember that your child’s natural bent and interests are very likely different from yours, and that’s okay!
Allow her to explore, trying an activity for a short period of time, a session, or a few months. Then allow her to make the choice to keep going or pick another activity.
What does your child talk about? Children will talk incessantly about what interests them. This can take patience, especially if the topics don’t interest you, but it is an excellent way to learn about your child. Many a parent has listened to hours of chatting about sports, video games, or animals! Take note of what your child dislikes as well. Listening also develops lines of communication with your child that will last into the teen years, when children are often more selective in sharing with parents.
How you react can either encourage or discourage your child from doing something she loves. Let your child take the lead, then encourage her by providing materials and opportunities. Honest praise and encouragement (children can spot fake praise a mile away!) will go a long way toward developing your child’s interests and allowing you to see what her skills and abilities are. Don’t throw a wet blanket over your child’s dreams. Maybe he won’t be an astronaut, but that doesn’t mean his interest in astronomy is wasted time. He is learning skills and giving you information that can be invaluable later on.
Offer Exposure to Variety
Try to give your child a huge variety of experiences. While you may have grown up playing sports or taking music lessons, your child may be better served with art lessons.
Expose your child to a variety of activities, and see what he enjoys. Attend sports events, concerts, plays, and museums. Let him try a sport for one session; see how he behaves in the Christmas program; try out an art program or lessons. Then run with the activities that he shows talent for.
Be Aware of Character
Talents such as athletic or artistic ability may be easier to recognize, but children also demonstrate a lot about themselves by their character. Does your child show unusual empathy toward others or toward animals? She might make a wonderful nurse or veterinarian.
Even characteristics that can be considered “negative” may indicate strengths that can be nurtured. That bossy child could become a CEO, the daydreamer, a creative thinker.
Through careful observation and nurturing of your child’s interests and choices, you’ll learn a lot about his personality. Use these observations as you plan lessons and choose curriculum. Your boisterous child may learn best through active play, dramatizations, and games, while the quiet one may prefer reading and individual study. An artistic child may learn best by illustrating historical events, while another child might prefer writing about them. Using the strategies listed above, you’ll soon be a student of your own child.