Imagine a world where we focus and nurture a child’s strengths and abilities rather than their shortcomings. We would achieve more; positive, confident children that are not threatened by anything because they have known their area of thriving. Agatha Kabugo Kisakye, a mother, and child protection officer says, “We need not consider as nothing that which we see in our children, however simple it might seem. Fellow parents, and early learning practitioners ought to focus on their children’s strengths, abilities and gifts.” Besides, the good book says, “A man’s gift will make room for him and usher him before great men.”
Grace Driwaru, a teacher at Kiira Day Springs and Day Care, says children talk about how they and others show feelings, about behaviour and its consequences. They and know that some behaviour is unacceptable, they are part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations and change of routine in their stride.
“Children develop quickly in their early years and early years practitioners aim to do all they can to help them have the best possible start in life,” says Driwaru, adding, “We do this by ensuring that the children’s time at school involves: playing and exploring, active learning as well as creating and thinking critically.”
Cheer them on
Kisakye gives an example of one of the children she has nurtured through their church programme:
“Growing up, I encouraged every little, simple and sometimes silly thing I saw in my son Douglas. I did not encourage bad behaviour. When he was younger, I took him for his first camp. Even though it did not go well with the camp leadership, I knew the general dynamics of camp and was certain that it was a great platform for my son. When campers were registering to present items on talent night, I registered him. Then I told him, “You are going to go up there and dance all those moves you do at church.” That was regardless of the fact that they were uncoordinated. At the back of my mind, I knew that it was going to be a place for him to start. To that effect, I mobilised people to cheer him on when he got on stage. He did not disappoint. After the performance, I praised him, telling him, “You were the best.” Thanks to unrelenting encouragement, he is now a choreographer.
More than one talent
Another thing I saw was that he tucked in all the time, even when it was unnecessary. I wondered but I told him, “Oh you are so smart.” He would also apply a lot of Vaseline on his legs and I could see a child that loves to be clean and smart. Today, he is into fashion, bringing a unique touch to men’s wardrobe.
That aside, he loved using complex English words with his peers and was always glad to explain their meanings, whenever he was asked. I felt proud. When he was in school, he did well in English, and won several medals in poetry in O and A-levels. He also never missed out on acting in our role plays. Today, he is thriving in theatre, reciting Shakespeare lines as though they were his.
Emphasise the strengths
Kisakye emphasises that however much help your child achieve their best and you fund them. Do not make a big deal of where they fall short as that does them no good. “If your child is good at football and not doing so well in class, get him membership to a football academy so that even when class is not going so well, the footballer in him is thriving. If he wins medals, let it be a big deal,” Kisakye explains.
Driwaru highlights a number of ways to nurture these traits into careers.
Make time to listen to children respectfully and explain to them why this is important. Children will then know that they will be listened to when they raise concerns or anything else they wish to say.
Children learn and develop well in enabling environments in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership among practitioners, and parents. In turn, the children learn how to value all people as well as value learning.
Exposing them more on what they like to do, for example, make them meet the people of similar character. “Career guidance, for example, bringing people in line with what they like to do, say a doctor to meet a child who is interested in the field of medicine,” says Driwaru.
Here, they can have career interviews with experts that highlight how they reached that level so that the children learn.
Driwaru reminds us that children are born ready, able, and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people in the world around them. However, development is not an automatic process, and, it depends on each unique child opportunity.