Searching for a child’s potential
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.”