Search­ing for a child’s po­ten­tial

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Education Supplement - Ruth Ni­na­janty CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Find­ing what your child is good at can be tricky at times. While some chil­dren may in­herit their par­ents’ tal­ent and oc­cu­pa­tion, oth­ers take a sep­a­rate path, some­times bring­ing a frown to their par­ents’ faces. If the older sis­ter is good at art, that doesn’t mean the younger brother will en­joy the same tal­ent. In today’s world, it is im­por­tant to rec­og­nize your child’s po­ten­tial early on, to pro­vide him or her with the best, most suitable ed­u­ca­tion.

Five-year-old Ri­vanno is one busy kid. As an ac­tive boy, he par­tic­i­pates in al­most ev­ery ex­tra-curric­u­lar ac­tiv­ity avail­able at his kin­der­garten, from choir, march­ing band and paint­ing to English as a second lan­guage. His mother, Iva Kur­ni­as­tuti, ad­mits that this is an at­tempt to find out what her son is good at. “So far it’s march­ing band and paint­ing that have won his at­ten­tion,” she said, adding that be­side what’s of­fered at school, Ri­vanno doesn’t par­tic­i­pate in any other af­ter-school ac­tiv­i­ties. “I will prob­a­bly try swim­ming some­time soon be­cause he just re­turned from a school field trip to a wa­ter­park and

he seemed to en­joy it.”

“I watch Ri­vanno ev­ery­day, and have re­al­ized what the things he’s good at are. Maybe those are the signs of his po­ten­tial,” she said.

This South Jakar­tan mother is try­ing her best to in­tro­duce Ri­vanno to dif­fer­ent things in life like dif­fer­ent types of jobs, and of­ten takes him to see art per­for­mances. When it comes to select­ing the right school, she wants the one that can also help Ri­vanno to grow. “If I know what he’s good at then I will be able to pick the most suitable school for him, some­thing that will match his learn­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics as well as pro­vid­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and fa­cil­i­ties for him to de­velop his tal­ents.”

In his book How to Plan Your Child’s

Life and Ed­u­ca­tional Fu­ture, Matthew McKis­sick writes that search­ing for a child’s full po­ten­tial is dif­fi­cult, be­cause as the child grows, new char­ac­ter­is­tics are adapted and this may af­fect what the child can and can­not do. Matthew sug­gests that par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors al­low chil­dren to be “men­tally trained and dis­ci­plined from an early stage to fol­low in­struc­tions and adapt eas­ily to sur­round­ings; this al­lows the child to have a high pos­si­bil­ity of per­form­ing bet­ter in chal­lenges and ex­pe­ri­ences at school.”

But that’s not en­tirely im­pos­si­ble. Oc­taria Arni Sas­mita, a for­mer kin­der­garten and pre-school teacher in East Jakarta, be­lieves in the say­ing that an ap­ple doesn’t fall far from its tree. “Chil­dren’s po­ten­tial is in­flu­enced by their par­ents, even from the preg­nancy stage. But par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors can start guid­ing them when they are able to com­mu­ni­cate ver­bally.

For ex­am­ple, if par­ents wish their child to be­come a med­i­cal doc­tor, then they could start by read­ing bed­time sto­ries about doc­tors. But make sure that the kid is ex­posed to more pos­i­tive ad­vice up un­til around nine years old. Af­ter that, par­ents can see whether the child wants or is able to fol­low their sug­ges­tion. If not, then it’s their job to look into other po­ten­tials the child has and help him or her de­velop it fully,” ex­plained Octa, who is a grad­u­ate of the pre-school teacher ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram at Assyafiyah Is­lamic Univer­sity.

This mother of two, who has taught at Global Kids School and Al Far­ras Cibubur, re­called her ex­pe­ri­ences with her sec­ond­born, who started baby school at the age of 6 months. “I was teach­ing at Ho­bi­hobi School at Pon­dok Gede at the time and there was a baby school there. So my daugh­ter, Im­rithi, de­vel­oped into a ver­bally in­tel­li­gent baby thanks to the daily ex­po­sure to adult speak­ers. The key is that when you en­roll your child at a school, make sure they learn ev­ery­thing, as many as things as pos­si­ble, in­clud­ing things that aren’t usu­ally their tasks at home like wash­ing dishes, wash­ing clothes, cook­ing and many more,” she sug­gested, en­cour­ag­ing par­ents to look into ex­tra-curric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, which now range from ro­bot­ics and cod­ing to archery and horse-rid­ing.

Once you find them, then what? “The amount of suc­cess varies among in­di­vid­u­als, so to reach for it ev­ery child must find his or her own level of achieve­ment. In rec­og­niz­ing this, par­ents must find their chil­dren’s limit in terms of their po­ten­tial ac­com­plish­ments,” McKis­sick writes. Both Iva and Octa trans­late this into com­pe­ti­tions.

“I would love for schools to en­cour­age their tal­ented chil­dren to take part in com­pe­ti­tions, but it should also be what the child wants, not be­cause the school needs them to par­tic­i­pate for mar­ket­ing pur­poses. So teach­ers should know the po­ten­tials of their pupils,” Iva said. Ri­vanno re­cently won third place in paint­ing. But for Octa, it’s not win­ning that mat­ters, it’s learn­ing how to lose.

“Com­pe­ti­tion can be harsh for kin­der­garten chil­dren, and some schools try to min­i­mize that by giv­ing ev­ery­one a tro­phy so they know their ef­fort is be­ing ap­pre­ci­ated. My chil­dren are still com­pet­ing, but I fo­cus on the pos­i­tive sides such as meet­ing new friends and learn­ing to be con­fi­dent on stage. So it’s not about win­ning and los­ing for them yet.”

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Jakarta In­ter­cul­tural School

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