Thomas Jefferson wrote these words in our Declaration Of Independence, and the sentiments they project have been incorporated into our lives and culture. So, please don't tar and feather me when I argue that we are not all created equally. We are each unique and carry within us our own profile of strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. And, while we all are entitled to equal rights (which is what these words are referring to), we are not all equal in intelligence, creativity, or patience, to name a few attributes.
Some of us have a facility learning language and expressing ourselves succinctly, others labor over vocabulary, spelling and communicating effectively. For some, like my daughter, math concepts are intuitively understood, and others have to resort to memorization because that is the only way they will survive in class. Music. I have struggled to learn to read music and my playing is accurate but klunky. My other daughter plays the piano and the music just flows and moves all around her.
And the truth is that this diversity is good. It makes our lives richer. The challenge for parents, however, is helping our children realize their potentials by recognizing their individual strengths and weaknesses and understanding how to strengthen them. It is our job to help them be all that they can be (to borrow a phrase).
The best way to strengthen skills is to use them. It's just that simple. The challenge is encouraging our kids to use their skills without them feeling pressured or like they're in school. But that really isn't hard. Play games, depart the text (see my last blog entry), and talk about all the neat and wonderful things around them.
Let's take the game, G-H-O-S-T for example. When you play this game, you are strengthening language, attention, memory, sequencing ability, problem solving and creativity, to name a few.
I assume we all know the game. Someone says a letter, and everyone takes turns adding a letter. The first person to spell a word gets a G then an H, O, S, and T. The first person to get GHOST loses.
Language: You are strengthening language skills because you have to be aware of words and how they are spelled.
Attention: You are strengthening attention because you have to focus on what everyone else has said and not lose track of letters given.
Memory: Memory is constantly being used too. Not only do you have to remember what letters were given, you have to remember how to spell a number of words, and you have to keep track of the score.
Sequencing Ability: When playing GHOST you have to remember the sequence of G-H-O-S-T letters that you have accumulated, and you should probably keep track of the other players too (just to keep them honest). Then, each round, you have to keep track of the letters given and make sure you can add a letter that will not spell a word. A good strategy would also be to plan ahead, thinking if you give a specific letter, who will be forced to end a word. It requires counting ahead and sequencing as well as problem solving.
Problem Solving: Thinking and executing strategies is all about problem solving, and we all have our favorite strategies that work best for us (and I will talk about this much more in future blog entries). The example in "Sequencing Ability" was only one possible strategy. There are more. And, the more you play the game, the more adept you will become at thinking and implementing strategies.
So with just one game you can strengthen a variety of skills. And, because we are all different, the games we like and are successful playing will differ too. Stay tuned, please come back as I discuss school demands and games you can play to strengthen skills and meet school's demands. I will also talk about how you can use different strategies in and out of school to take advantage of strengths and navigate around weaknesses.
In the meantime, I would love to hear what skills you might want me to focus on in future blog entries, or if you have any specific issues or questions you'd like to read more about.
Thanks for visiting, please leave a comment. I look forward to hearing from you.