Nurturing Early Interests and Strengths

How do I help my child develop his/her potential?

In the face of your child’s rapidly developing skills, it is sometimes hard to remember to keep the focus on a child's love and excitement for learning new things, rather than the accomplishments. Young minds are hungry for stimulation, and when living with an especially eager, successful learner, it can be tempting to add academic drill and training to the day at the expense of allowing your child learn and discover through play. Play is the best way to foster growth, creativity, and a love of learning.

Play and hands on learning activities can help develop social/emotional maturity, academic comptenecy, critical thinking skills, resiliency, and more. The following are suggestions to develop his/her potential:

  • Scaffolding helps the child rise to the next level. Think of something a very young child can do by himself, such as a 3-piece wooden puzzle. Plopping him in front of a 24-piece puzzle will likely be too overwhelming; however, if a caring adult sits with the child and gently talks him through the process with a puzzle slightly more difficult than what he can do along, the child can build skill and confidence.
  • Pretend Play encourages creativity and interaction with materials and others.  Children learn by acting out and simulating real world experiences.  Use materials they are interested in to create stories and experiences.
  • Foster learning through positive interactive experiences.  
  • Use developmentally appropriate activities and skills.  It is easy to want to push young bright children into academic skills through rote drill and practice.  While they may have the ability to perform such tasks, it is important to remember their chronological age and developmentally appropriate practices.  
  • Read Books – books are a way to dive into fanciful stories, imagination, discovery, and address struggles and events the child is experiencing through characters in the stories.

What you do at home, reading to and playing with your child, is the best investment you can make.  Be careful not to extend expectations based on your child’s performance in any one activity to all activities.  Providing a wide variety of opportunities and experiences is one of the best way to develop and foster potential in your young child.