Teaching to a child’s passion- Is it possible?
Children have so many possibilities. They are beautiful blank canvasses, waiting to flourish into the most interesting, detailed paintings; encouraged by the influential forces in their lives: family, teachers, and peers. But they come bursting from the womb with personalities that are very much their own. It may take awhile for them to express who they truly are, but I think any parent will tell you with the utmost sincerity that their child or children are unique. There is no one like them.
What we as parents want for our children (other than they be happy as their wonderfully unique selves) is to be productive citizens; successful following the path destined for them and making a living doing something they are passionate for. That last part may give you pause…”making a living doing something they are passionate about.” Is that necessary? Is it really the most important part of making a living? Do you love what you do? Do I? Would you still have the profession you are in now, had learning been tailored to match your personality and strengths? Perhaps. But many adults would tell you they would have done something else. Something they are passionate about, a word we generally save for adults. What about children, though? Can they have passions, too?
We like to think that our child’s teachers are responsible for pulling out their strengths, catering to them with a child-directed teaching style, and then setting them on the journey that will lead to their professional life. But with the overcrowding of our schools and decrease in national and state budgets for education, how can teachers actually accomplish this under impossible circumstances? Is it time to re-think the way our educational system is built? Many would say, “A million times, yes!” and the other side of that argument would be, “Unemployment is dropping. We must be doing something right.”
How do we effectively set our children up to be successful- truly educated with learning they can use on the path they were born to take?
I was speaking with Keller Williams Midtown Direct realtor, Vanessa Pollock, about this topic recently. Vanessa is extremely passionate about her calling as a local realtor, as is obvious by her brand motto: Care. Serve. Give. She has received national recognition for excellence in her service, and she gives some credit to her teachers for recognizing qualities within her that set her on the appropriate professional path. “When I was in second grade, my teacher gave me an award for my art project and explained that my “hard work and attention to detail” had made all the difference. It didn’t matter that it was “just coloring”, because I have applied that to EVERYTHING I do. I probably heard her words and understood the lesson more deeply at that age because it pertained to my childhood passion.”
Any consideration for this philosophy has to start at the first level of education- early childhood. It is at this crucial period of development where our children begin to show preferences based on what makes them feel good. They aren’t bogged down with whether they should or shouldn’t enjoy something. They experiment with discovery and play until they find the areas they have accomplishments in, and then return to those tasks again and again. Early childhood teachers have a huge benefit and responsibility here, to nurture these interests and set up a curriculum that appeals to each child’s strengths and personality. What if we treated children as mini-professionals? How would this translate into their ability to think cognitively and actually engage in what they are passionate about productively?
Could the child who loves to build, but has a hard time with the social aspects of being a team member, be a future project manager or designer? A teacher could encourage design for this child in the Legos center on a construction project; helping him/her delegate tasks to bring the creation to life.
The child who is always drawn to experimentation may thrive in research. Teachers can create a series of hands-on learning projects for this child and guide them in a compare and contrast assessment afterward.
The social butterfly in the room may be a host or a service-oriented professional, finding joy in role-playing as a nurse practitioner or interior designer. With a little assistance and literature, this child could contribute suggestions to the kind of supplies needed to help make it “real”.
Relating our children’s learning strengths to how they may thrive in the working world is crucial in how we set them up as adults. It may sound hokey or fantastical, but the overall health and success of our nation could very well depend on how we approach educating our little ones. What has been considered “traditional” (i.e. one lesson plan for all) may not be the most effective approach and may be a relic of the past eventually. Where do you stand? And what kinds of questions are you prepared to ask in the interest of your unique child? We all have a calling of some kind. What is your child’s?
In addition to helping families find the best programs for their children, I am hoping to begin consulting with daycares and preschools as well. It is my personal belief that we can find a more holistic way to prepare our children for the real world, regardless of educational philosophy or influence. And not just with a program here and there. All programs. Isn’t it time?
For more information about Vanessa Pollock and her team, check out her website at Vanessa Pollock Realty Group