Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not All Kids Are Created Equal

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.


  1. Thanks for visiting my site. I love your background and the concept of your blog. I have 4 children and they are all so different!

    I don't know if anyone helped, but a gadget is just extra things you can add to your blog. Examples listed how you will see them in the blogger list when you click on add a gadget:

    Followers--click on this and it will let people "follow" your blog. Their icons will show up and you can see who is following you.

    HTML/Java Script--this is a box to add something from somewhere else, such as a music playlist, word count widget (another name for gadget), video, whatever. You cut and paste the html into the box and it does the work for you.

    Text--Just a text box.

    Blog List--you type in the address of your favorite blogs and they show up in a list. Nice for sharing.

    Those are some of the most commonly used. You can also ask a question using the "poll" gadget and see what your readers would answer.

    Hope that helps!

  2. Hi...I like the content of your blog. Being a homeschooling mother of 7, love the advantages of being able to "depart the text" and learn by living. I have a 2 yr. old on up to seventeen and they all have learned in an unstructured environment This has enabled them to focus on their strengths and talents and pursue what they love. The other "subjects" that doesn't come easy is learned through living-- not just pursued heavily.
    We all are different and influencing your child to learn and think for themselves is something they can take with them forever and create success for their lives. If we can teach them to never stop learning...they're set.
    As the saying goes..."It's not how much you know, but what you do when you don't know"

    I'll be checking back...let me know how else I can contribute to your blog!

    Jenny Penton

  3. Hi Jenny. Thanks so much for your comments. I did not home school my kids but when I taught for Johns Hopkins CTY I was always impressed with the home schooled kids. I look forward to reading your blogs and hearing what you are doing. Please feel free to add ideas and questions here!