“Children can display their talents or gifts in different ways; through words, numbers, music, pictures, athletic, or hands-on abilities and social or emotional development.”
After the release of the movie Queen of Katwe in 2016, a tribute was written, based on the life of Phiona Mutesi, who at the age of 11 was a junior national chess champion in Uganda.
Now aged 20, Mutesi is a woman candidate master (WCM), spending her time travelling the world competing in tournaments; alongside her coach, Robert Katende, who noticed her talent.
Woman candidate master (achieved at a rating of 2000), is the lowest-ranking title awarded by FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs).
Mutesi's mother encouraged her interest in chess, which paved way for her success.
However, Mutesi was not considered talented at the start.
In fact, she had no interest in chess. As it was, one day she stumbled upon Katende teaching a group of children in her village the board game and she took a seat and looked on. Whatever happened later propelled her to the top in the chess book of records.
Today, Mutesi is considered talented in chess.
Indeed like Mutesi, many other young people are gifted, but need grooming and nurturing to hone their talents.
Hakki Aydin, the academic director Light Academy schools and Galaxy International schools, says: "All parents, communities and schools, must let children nurture and sprout their talents or gifts."
This was Aydin's message to parents, at the recent send-off ceremony for the best performing students at Light Academy SS.
"Children can display their talents or gifts in different ways; through words, numbers, music, pictures, athletic, or hands-on abilities and social or emotional development," explains Aydin.
He adds that apart from emphasising academic excellence, there is a need for parents and teachers to discover the children's talents.
"The attributes you are ignoring shutting down in favour of academic excellence might be the child's platform to glory."
Psychologists and educationists say talented students are those whose skills are above average in one or more areas of human performance or in the following domains of human ability: intellectual, creative, social and physical.
Aydin urges schools and parents need to spare time for co-curricular activities.
"Schools should not just focus on classwork, but we must ensure that students think beyond books."
He adds that children without additional skills, will hardly get employed or even run any business on their own.
"That extra value is what gives one an edge in the job and work market," Aydin explains.
Isa Otcu, the chairman board of governors for Light Schools and academies (2017), says: "With gifted students, one is assured of a bright future."
However, identifying and grooming a child's talent is not always smooth sailing. Susan Badagawa, a counsellor from Hope in Life, says neglect by parents equally leads to the neglect of a child's talents.
She adds that the chances of one's child being given special attention in a school are minimal, owing to the big class sizes and at times, the delay in noticing a child's talent.
Margret Lubowa, a psychologist from International Counselling Centre in Kalunga- Bunga, Kampala, says children whose talents are not nurtured can hardly compete in the real world.
She says a child's talents are easily discovered at an early age and that children should get a balance of academic work, play, and discovery of what they can do best.
Meanwhile, Anna Van Brakel, a psychologist, in her publications, explains that when it comes to the exploration of talents, any adult interacting with a child should play a role.
She notes that every child has the potential to contribute something unique to the world.
"We demand a lot from our children academically. We should let them interact freely so that they can develop an independent mind and skills."
Furthermore, Brakel says, technology has affected the way many children spend their time outside school hours. She says most children's initiative to think has been curtailed and parents need to find other ways of making their children active.
How parents can help
Anna Van Brakel, a psychologist, recommends more playtime for children to expose them to different aspects in the environment. This will help them figure out their talents.
She adds that a parent can awaken the inborn talents or develop the strengths of a child through the experiences they give them at home. "Thanking and praising your child's work teaches your children to trust their intuitions and believe in their capabilities," says Brakel.
This, she says, gives the child confidence.
Susan Badagawa, a counsellor, urges parents to make time for their children despite their busy schedules because it is their role to identify their children's talents.
She says parents can identify a child's talents by interacting with them often.
Badagwa also says parents should take their children to playgrounds during the holidays and weekends.
"Do not keep them locked up in your houses. Give them more space," Badagawa advises. Brakel advises parents to give children more opportunities to explore who they are.
Tips to improve your child's talents
Daniel Coyle, the author of a bestselling book, The Talent Code, says one can improve a child's chances by understanding one key thing: greatness is not born. It is grown.
How children practise, deal with failure, get praised and how they are criticised all play a part in the likelihood of achieving greatness.
Here is how a parent can help their child discover and develop their talents:
Watch for tiny, powerful moments of ignition
It is not easy to practice deeply — it requires passion, motivation, persistence and the emotional fuel we call love.
All practice is not created equal
The talent hotbeds have long known a crucial fact that science is just discovering: skill-acquisition skyrockets when we operate on the edge of our abilities, making errors and correcting them — a state called "deep practice."
Slow practice is productive practice
This technique is common to every talent hotbed from tennis to cello to math.
Praise effort, not natural ability
When we praise a child's intelligence, we are telling her that status is the name of the game and she reacts by taking fewer risks.
Copying is a neurological shortcut to skill. Vividly imagining yourself perfecting a skill is a great first step to actually doing it, whether you are writing or dancing.
The kind of deep practice that grows skill circuits can only come from within the child, not from the parent, no matter how well-meaning.
Adapted from online Sources