Recognizing Strengths and Affinities
Sometimes in our haste to help children and adolescents overcome their weaknesses, we neglect the careful detection and cultivation of their strengths. Yet, in the adult world what counts most is the strength of an individual's strengths. Therefore, any student's educational planning needs to include measures to mobilize and enhance individual assets of the mind. And every kid has these! They await discovery.
Different forms of strength can be found. A child may reveal certain highly developed neurodevelopmental functions. For example, she or he may be particularly effective with language, motor coordination, or certain aspects of memory. Other children show very advanced higher thinking, as revealed in their creativity, the way they form concepts, or the astute quality of their critical thinking. There are students who exhibit remarkable strengths in their social cognition; they are true "people persons," which will carry them far in any career they select as an adult.
It is up to teachers and parents to make sure that students with good language skills get plenty of opportunities to develop verbally through public speaking and writing. Kids with great spatial capacities need opportunities to advance their artistic or mechanical aptitudes. Highly creative children must never have their original thinking stifled in any way - to the contrary, they deserve many opportunities to pursue their uniqueness and dream up novel ideas. Finally students with great social skills need opportunities to become leaders.
Some children display strengths in specific skill areas, such as sports, music, writing, or mathematics. These individuals must be able to pursue advanced courses whenever possible. When a child has learning difficulties, the pursuit of a strength can go far to alleviate anxiety and prevent the onset of low self-esteem due to academic underachievement. In other words, your strengths can keep you afloat when you are struggling to overcome the effects of your weaknesses. Strengths also have implications for choosing careers, avocations, and even courses in secondary school.
Reprinted with the permission of All Kinds of Minds © 1999-2008 All Kinds of Minds
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