5 Ways to Unleash the Genius of Your Child
Article and Photo's by Rain San Martin
The Myth of the Child Prodigy
One of the most limiting perceptions of society is that if a person wants to achieve greatness they must have done so by the time they are 25. Why is this? Myths.
Myth #1 They believe that if they were talented it would have manifested itself in a series of works by age 25. Which leads to myth#2:
Myth #2 They missed the plane of opportunity that took off at age 25, therefore are destined to live an artless mundane life until the end of their days.
Google the term late bloomers and you will learn there are many artists, scientists, musicians, writers and film maker who achieve success or discover their passion later in life. It is never too late to achieve success, stay in the game and surely you will win.
Parents are chiefly responsible for having a child prodigy as it requires part-time / full time work and tireless dedication on the part of the parent during their child’s early career. This is not required nor necessarily beneficial. Child prodigies may prematurely experience fame, making it difficult to stay levelheaded emotionally and can miss out on their childhood. However as parents we are wise to strategically plant the seeds of greatness by offering tools, creating peaceful environment, and giving unconditional love. You can lay the foundation for genius, yet it is not your job to start their career early. Play your cards right and not only will your children reach their creative potential, you will have time to reach your own dreams too, while modeling an example for your kids!
#1 Allow Boredom
The space in-between scheduled activities allows for true genius to manifest. Modern kids and teens have most of their spare time either scheduled with activities or they fill up the silence with entertainment. The article Dear Kids: It’s OK to Be Bored states: “Being bored is like sitting in front of a blank canvas. Boredom is infinite possibility. You are the captain of your own ship and before you lies an expanse of dark blue ocean and clear skies.”
When a child says "I'm bored", you may be a tempted to pull out the gaming consoles or fill up their schedules with more activities. However this "free" time is a key foundation for stimulating the imagination and achieving dreams. When their boredom is dulled by the metaphorical medication of continual extracurricular obligations or digital entertainment they can never truly manifest the world of endless possibilities. In the book iWoz, inventor Steve Wozniak who created the first Apple computer, explains that he learned about electronics by tinkering as a child in his spare time. The same can be said for many great software developers, musicians and inventors. When kids have unscheduled time and the gaming devices are turned off, a window of opportunity has been opened. Children may suddenly be motivated to practice their guitar, take apart an old cell phone, or learn coding to make a video game of their own. Yet they will need you to shine a light on these possibilities.
Physical Tools to Have On Hand
- Drawing pencils
- Play dough
- Instructional dance video's
- Art paper
- Construction paper
- Science kits
- Sewing tools
- Drums / musical instruments
#2 Give Your Children Physical Tools for Creating Art
A frugal and effective way to foster an atmosphere of creativity is to provide some basic tools. There is certainly no need go buy all of them at once. Throughout the years you can get them as small rewards, request as birthday gifts, or place in Christmas stockings.
You never know what your child will respond to. Having a variety of art supplies, blocks, and material will spur spontaneous creativity.
Software and Hardware Tools to Have Available:
- Paint or Photoshop (Gimp is free)
- Video editing software
- Online coding classes, usually free
- Digital camera (may use phone)
- Video camera (may use phone)
- Digital audio recorder / audio editor
- Word Editor such as Microsoft word
#3 Equip Kids with Software
For as little as $300 a family can purchase a quality computer, and a child can have access to software tools. There are many great open source (free) software options available, including:
Open Office (free Microsoft Office alternative ) for word processing, spread sheets or presentations.
Gimp (free Photoshop alternative) for photo retouching and digital art. As soon as your able my personal advice is to invest the a small amount for for creating photo-realistic artwork. Photoshop Elements
Audacity (free audio editor, on a basic level). This is a good starter program to get kids experimenting with sound cuts.
Tip: Always download software directly from the manufacturer to avoid computer viruses. Often 3rd party sites will bundle free software with unwelcome malicious spyware or other viruses.
Many of these programs are sophisticated and will require a learning curve. Gradually learning programs with your children and offering rewards for study will payoff down the road. As your children grow older you may wish to purchase the professional program for building resume credentials.
Not All “Screen Time” is Created Equal.
Allow for the use of developer software without it cutting into your child's daily screen time. Otherwise they may always prefer to veg-out over creating content and learning new skills. Encourage the use of photo editing software, video editing software, 3D animation software, and of course a word editor for writing books. “Mom can I watch another episode of (fill in the blank) “, they ask? You respond, “No but you can use Paint on the computer if you like? We can even email it to Grandma." Or perhaps your teen is upset about having to turn off the their video game. You can offer they explore online coding classes or learn how to create 3D animation with Blender (open source / free) by following some tutorials on YouTube.
Equip them with tools, reading materials, and possibly instructional videos. Laying down in the grass practicing the art of doing nothing should also be applauded. When you allow kids to have large chunks of unscheduled time without the hum of gaming devices, you create space for magic.
A Comical View on How to Make Your Child a Genius
#4 Give Them Science Kits or Electronic Parts
You may have a little Nikola Tesla on your hands. Give them tools to bring them on their way. Here are a few ways to get them started.
- Ask for an Inventions from Amazon. Science kit
- Get a gift card to YoungExplorers.com
- If your lucky enough to have a Science Camp nearby, sign them up for a week-long immersion.
Let them explore. Don't be too afraid of them braking your computer or electronic device. Better to risk it being ruined than to squelch curiosity or instill timidity.
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#5 Show Them Your Trade
A parent may be tempted to leave vocational training to the schools. Years of opportunities may be missed if a child is not shown some of the basics of your trade while they live with you. This does not need to be a significant investment of time as you can explain your various work activities to your children throughout the years. Look for any opportunity to involve them. Whether you are an electrician, repairman, customer service rep or teacher there are numerous ways to share your vocational knowledge.
If you have a home business give them an internship in your trade. Internships can be far more powerful than college as the trade is being implemented rather than hypothesized.
You don't need to produce a child prodigy to raise a creative genius. It is not required of the parent to take up the full time job of developing your child's career. What you can do is plant the seeds of possibility so that they will take the reigns as an adult. Above all lay the foundation of a peaceful home, giving them unconditional love and friendship.
© 2014 Rain San Martin