How is Your Child Smart?

Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

As many of you know, I am now part of a wonderful large company that is daily accomplishing amazing things for young children and families. I have so enjoyed listening to others in our industry talk about what we do but using different words. Often we are saying the same thing but just saying it differently … and therefore, it resonates differently. Listening to someone emphasizing a different part of the word or rearranging the order of the words in a sentence makes one pause and say, “WOW!” That happened to me this past week as I sat in a meeting.

A brilliant person on the Bright Horizons education team said, “We don’t ask the question, ‘How smart is this child?’ Instead, we ask, ‘How is this child smart?’” That really resonated with me.  I thought about families with multiple children and how we are often tempted to compare them. If one isn’t excelling in the same way that another did, we assume that one child is smarter than the other child.

Even if you are the parent of just one child, it is easy to compare your child to his peers. The goal for us is to figure out how to tap into the abilities and interests of each individual child. Every child can be successful. Every child has a lighted smile that emerges when she discovers something she really enjoys or a big grin of satisfaction when she masters a difficult task. It is our job to figure out by observing, listening, and then providing opportunities for each child to succeed and learn in the areas of her strengths and interests.

If you have a frustrated or struggling child, I encourage you to abandon the questioning of how smart your child might be. Instead, go on a mission to find out what areas your child really enjoys. How is your child smart?  For the music lover, those math facts can be learned easily in rap. If he loves texture, he can practice writing in sand. The dancer might need to connect how ballet, tap, or modern jazz are related to various times in history so that she enjoys it enough to stay interested. It may take more effort, but finding ways to make learning fun and finding out how your child is smart is the key to developing a lifelong love for learning. Every child deserves advocates who will keep working on his behalf to help him achieve his personal best.

Parents are a child’s first teacher and will always be her number one advocate. It is important that no one is every allowed to label your child in a negative way. If you child cannot succeed in a certain environment, perhaps the environment or approach should change. She has only one childhood, and we have only one opportunity to get it right.

I love learning new things, and I love being with amazing people who remain committed to every child. Remember … failure is not an option. If something isn’t working, it is often just the approach. Change a couple of words around, observe more closely, and get creative. Find out how your child can succeed.

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