Children’s 12 Genius Qualities
When I taught second graders several boys and girls each year were intellectually far above their peers. I began thinking of them as geniuses. I enjoyed teaching them – most of the time. Sometimes their curiosity and intellectual energy were fatiguing. They had tons of questions and needed, and not just wanted, to explore everything. Maybe you can relate. Do you wonder if your children are geniuses?
Dr. Tom Armstrong asked a different question many years ago. He is a big believer in people’s potential and was one of the first educators, back in the 1970s, to think about children labeled as “learning disabled” as simply “learning different.” He didn’t want teachers or parents thinking more about disabilities than abilities. I don’t want us to either.
Dr. Armstrong was concerned about the use of medication to change children’s behavior and whether some teaching and parenting methods were appropriate. In that light, he began asking, Where have the geniuses gone?
His concern motivated him to read about Edison, Shakespeare, Einstein, Bach, Franklin, Picasso, Carver, and other “acknowledged adult geniuses.” From his reading, he identified 12 qualities they have in common.
My staff and I found this so fascinating and compelling when stumbling upon Dr. Armstrong’s work that I began teaching it to teachers in Christian schools and to parents who homeschool their children. Frankly, I think they have the greatest likelihood of keeping the qualities alive.
Then, back in 2014, two friends and I wrote a book that we titled, Awakening and Celebrating Children’s 12 Genius Qualities, to help parents wrap their minds around these concepts. To inspire you, I’ll be blogging about these 12 qualities over the next many Wednesdays. You’ll see your children in a new light and find out some are true geniuses.
Are you familiar with the 8 great smarts I’ve written about and teach about often? Similarly, whether or not we develop any or all of the 12 genius qualities is up to us. And we get to choose whether we want to develop the qualities in the children we influence. Dr. Armstrong concluded that all people are innately open to these genius qualities. As with the smarts, each quality can be awakened and strengthened. And each can be stifled or stopped by the people we interact with and by our environment.
Nurturing the Genius Qualities
My niece, Betsy, loves planting and harvesting vegetables. She posts pictures of the process on Facebook – beginning with seeds in small containers, transferring them to the garden, harvesting the vegetables, and then making something delicious with them. I still remember pictures from last summer – when the tomato sauce she made and canned from her own tomatoes looked good enough to eat. I could almost smell it through my computer!
Like seeds and young plants, children need to be nurtured in their different phases so they become what God created them to be. They need to be planted in a rich environment and paid attention to. Unhealthy attitudes and beliefs need to be weeded out. Children need to be fed, not just by water and sun although both are good for kids, but by nutrients like optimism, clarity, teaching, and a variety of activities, experiences, and toys.
Among the very important things to nurture in our children are their genius qualities. We can watch for children to use them and affirm them. We can observe to determine what’s preventing them from using them more often or more productively and make changes. The use of genius qualities encourages children, adds joy to their world, and makes it more likely they’ll contribute in positive ways to what’s wrong in the world.
Are you curious what the qualities are? Don’t miss a post. Watch for this series on Wednesdays.