Talents, Gifts and Abilities

Everyone in our family has unique Talents, gifts and abilities. We believe that these aptitudes were created in them at the beginning of their life – their conception. God has his hand in this!


Links within this page

How to discover Talents?
Help! I can’t teach that
Our days are so full already!
A Caution or two
A Comment on Mum, I’m bored!
Talents, Gifts and Abilities (a list of ideas)
FAQ in regards to Talents, Gifts and Abilities


Another word we use in our family is Creativity. We want our children to be creative. This is more than what we see in the Creative Arts sphere – creativity crosses all areas of society.


Creativity is a way of looking at a need, a task,
or an idea from a new perspective.

- Definition from Character First


An inherent ability will often lead to passion. When a child is passionate about something he will start to see ways to solve problems – be that how to play a sheet of music, how to interpret some data, or how to cross a river.

Identity based homeschooling is another homeschool tag and one that we subscribe to. Talents are a component of who our children are and we need to discover them and allow them to develop.



How to discover Talents?

Time is the answer for this question. Not so much that we wait until the child is a young adult but rather that we give them time now. Time to recreate. I believe there is a connection between having recreational time and being creative. As we give our children plenty of free time to be themselves, to be children, we will start to see patterns forming especially if we don’t put expectations on this time. Another aspect to giving children time is to monitor other commitments that reduce the time they could give to their passions.

  • What is it that the child gravitates towards?
  • What do they choose to do with their free time?
  • What do they get excited about?
  • What do they want to talk about?


Help! I can’t teach that

When we see an ability in our children, we can scratch our head and wonder where that gene came from as it certainly wasn’t from me! When our children have a talent in an area that the parents have no ability in themselves, it causes some anxiety. How are we going to teach them this? Though as homeschoolers we have taken on the hands-on responsibility to educate our children this does not mean we need to do it alone. When our child has a Gift that exceeds our own ability this is an excellent opportunity to involve someone else in your child’s life.

Mentoring is a historically proven method of training. I encourage you to find someone to mentor your child in this particular area. Don’t feel like you are abdicating your right to educate your child; you are really being very responsible in doing everything you can to maximise your child’s potential. A mentor may be someone you pay to teach weekly lessons to your child or they maybe someone in your circle of friends who is happy to spend time with your child.



Our days are so full already!

I believe that we all have an element of creativity in us – we are made in God’s image and He is the ultimate creative talent! But it is Time that allows this to develop. We must be careful about how many commitments take up our children’s time, and do they have enough time to develop their Creativity?

We need time; time to practice, time to learn and improve. This is the biggest challenge in this day and age – to find time for something that seems like a delight. This is the whole point of prioritising Talents in our day. It is more than delight in a fun sense – it has the potential to shape our children and their future decisions. We believe part of God’s plan for each of us is wrapped up in the talents, gifts and abilities that He gave us.

Once again, the beauty of lifestyle homeschooling is that your day goes with what your family needs. When we look at talents as an important part of our child’s potential we see the possibility to cover a diversity of different areas within the traditional fields of education.

For example when my daughter studies music –

  • She has the pleasure that music brings to her
  • She has the opportunity to develop her talent for playing
  • She also has the opportunity to study composers which will cover many academic areas
  • She may have the opportunity to play for the old people, at the Aged Care Facility, which is a community service
  • She has the plan to play for Christian worship, which may well be a part of her purpose in life

When we see it like this, why would we not make time in our day for daily practice and weekly lessons?



A Caution or two

One caution though, is that we don’t want to box our children. They need time and experiences to develop into all that they are going to become. We must make room for lots of playtime, free time and creative expression. Only when the children become passionate about something do we hone in on that.

Parents can get bothered when we don’t see any passion or talent developing in our children. Don’t rush them; give them plenty of free time, and as long as they are not being disruptive or destructive with that time, they will drift to something. You may have to teach your children to use their time wisely but don’t over stress this all the time. Children need time to dwell, to think, to ponder, to create.

Another caution is that as they are developing, their passions may only last for a season. Remember our children are growing, which is why the free time is the key here. Give them time to develop.



A comment on Mum, I’m bored!

The most often given response when children say they are bored, is for the mother to threaten them with a chore. I find this counterproductive.

I believe that in everything we do we have the opportunity to teach our children something. So that when they say they are bored and have nothing to do I need to ask myself – What is it they need to learn in this situation?

What is missing, in the child, is their ability to make a decision on how to spend their time. Giving them a consequence for admitting this inability is just going to teach them to keep that to themselves next time and not talk to you about it. We have the opportunity to teach them something positive. What is needed is some training in making decision.

The first tool I give the children is a list of options. This seems to narrow down their choices and they are more able to deal with that. At some stage we sit down together and brainstorm all the projects and activities that they could do by themselves. This is the list that they are directed to when they need to make a decision in regards to their Productive Free Time.

If they still can’t make a decision, I make that list shorter, say down to 3-5 activities. I choose these activities and write them on a card, and remove the original list. The less choice, the easier it is to make a decision. For a short time of training the shortlist is the list they are directed to when they need to make a decision. Once they can do this well, they are given a wider choice with the original list.

If they still um and ahh with the short list, then I give them a time frame in which to make a decision – say 5 minutes. After this time is up, if they still can’t make a decision I make it for them. I am not giving them a consequence but guiding them in making a decision. The goal is to find something to do.

Ultimately, if they can't accept this process they loose the opportunity for Free Productive Time (and it would be at this stage, that they would possibly get a chore as a consequence, not for not knowing what to do but for not accepting the training process.) Next day when they have Productive Free Time we continue the training process again.

These are the steps I use in training them in making wise choices with their time.


Read Rachel Larkin's story with dealing with boredom and the very positive results for her son.



Talents, Gifts, and Abilities

I must admit I find it hard to distinguish between these three titles; what is a talent, gift and ability, and what are the differences? I am not going to make those distinctions. When a child has an ability he loves doing that, he learns it easily, he is passionate about it, he wants to do it, in fact sometimes he can’t stop from doing it.

Many children’s activities may lead to a passion in a few years. Many of these activities are the precursor to what we, as adults see as a Talent. Eg. Craft as a girl may well lead to Fashion Design or Interior Decorating as a Talent later in the teen years.


A list of ideas:

Acting / Drama

Building / Construction

Cooking

Craft

Drawing

Dressmaking – designing

Gardening

Interior decorating

Music

Organising

Painting

Photography

Pottery

Publishing, Graphics Arts,

Thinking

Working with Colour – beading, crafts, scrapbooking,

Writing

Numbers


FAQ in regards to Talents, Gifts and Abilities


Q. What if my child just wants to sit at the computer and play computer games?

A. I believe it is all to do with balance. As the parent we are still ultimately responsible for the child’s health and safety. We know, as an adult, that it is not healthy for kids to be in front of the TV or Computer all day.

If my child chose to sit at the piano all day, it would not be healthy for her long term either. Society doesn’t immediately see this as a problem, though in reality it is the same issue. Our children’s lives, as do our lives, need to have balance.

In my opinion there is a difference between sitting at a computer and being productive and sitting at the computer for recreation. In our family we limit the recreation time and monitor the productive time. By this I mean, a child has the freedom to play computer games for ½ hour a day though on those days TV choices are very limited. We see Recreational TV and Recreational Computer as Screen Time on weekdays. I monitor Productive Computer time, purely for a physical health perspective. We need to stretch our muscles and work our eye muscles when we do a lot of computer work.

I believe when we make this difference between Productive and Recreational we can set boundaries a lot more clearer for the child/teen. Due to a generational difference, change in technology and society, parents often see the computer/screen issues as biggies. They are in our face. Though the girl who won’t do anything other than look after her horses, to the detriment of family relationships and personal friendships is in the same situation. A teen who wants to listen to music all the time is also walking away from balance.

We may need to recognise that our child has a passion, an ability even, for computer technology. We can direct their passion to purposeful pursuits where the computer is still the theme though maybe they are not sitting at the screen all day. The computer can still be the theme in how they spend their time; computer magazines, building a computer, teaching another child about computers etc are some options.

Though I believe in Identity and Delight directed education, I first and foremost, hold to the fact that the parents are the parents. It is our responsibility to identify the talents in the child, to maximise their growth with that talent and to keep their lives growing in a healthy way. This of course, may create conflict initially but balance, and consideration but you have your eyes on the long term goals.


Passions are not to rule our lives;
the whole of God’s Word is.


Q. My kids don't do anything if I give them free time. How do I see what they are interested in?

A. I came to the point where I regretted using the wording Free Time in our family. With the use of those words there seemed to be an inbuilt demand, based on their perceived right for free time. In the eyes of the children, not only was it their right for free time, they could totally waste their time as well. This was not in keeping with our family values.

Initially I changed our family vocab to Productive Free Time. This meant that the children needed to be doing something productive with this particular time slot.

It is also important not to give our children too much free time, or even productive free time unless they are using it correctly. We need to guide them, help them grow into this type of activity. If they can only handle 15 minutes, maybe twice a day, then this is what they get. My goal was to get them to be able to up to a couple of hours a day being creative.

Not only do we need to teach them to make a decision but we need to provide them with an environment where creativity is encouraged.

  • Do you have things around the house for them to do?
  • Are you doing creative things?
Time and opportunity will work together for you.


Live life with your kids!



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