Albert Einstein’s name is synonymous with genius and this man who was born in 1879 and passed on in 1955 at the age of 76 remains an Icon and Legend. He developed the theory of relativity (E=mc2), won the Noble Prize for Physics and wrote hundreds of books. He also lived a very interesting and colourful life and apart from being a scientist was also a social activist and humanitarian. Despite being known for his academic proficiency and prowess It may interest you to know that Albert was slow to speak. In fact he was given the name “dopey” as he didn’t start talking till he was three, but once he started there was no stopping this man who confounded even his teachers. Like the Bible says our children shall know more than their teachers and as parents of these little geniuses here are some tips which may be useful as we nurture them.
Learn through experience: We love our children but let’s not confuse love with over sheltering. Many times we over protect these beautiful gifts God has entrusted us with so much so that we don’t allow them experience life. We forget that a lot of knowledge comes through experience. So allow them enjoy diverse experiences with your guidance. Like the eagle drops their young so they learn to fly , lets allow them experience life and be right there to catch them just in case they fall.
Learn so you can teach: Let’s admit it for many of us the way our children are taught is totally different from how we were taught, so get their curriculum and ask their teacher questions about their subjects . Go online and find resources so you can help with homework and the like. You must not become expert but at least have a good grasp so you can also teach and assist. Like a popular legal maxim says ‘Nemo dat quod non habet’ (you can’t give what you don’t have) so you must endeavour to equip yourself adequately so you can help your genius with their academics when necessary.
Allow them Make Mistakes: We love our precious gifts but sometimes they may make mistakes. Rather than make them feel awful use every mistake as an opportunity to learn a lesson. Make it a teachable moment and when possible let them learn from your mistakes as sometimes learning from another persons mistakes will help them avoid some unnecessary hurt.
Allow Curiosity: Curiosity is an important tool in solving problems. If they don’t ask why then issues will not receive answers. Allow them be curious and do not get tired of their questions. For as you answer your genius who knows you may be nurturing the next great inventor.
Imagination is Powerful: Just imagine! Imagination makes you think of all the possibilities and is the bedrock of creativity. Ask any great inventor and they will tell you how their curiosity made them ask questions and led them to create. “What if man could fly” …” I wonder if this car can go faster”. A good illustration of the power of imagination is how Walt Disney imagined Disney Land which has today become one of the top tourist attractions in the world and grosses about $13billion per annum.
Perservance is priceless: Einstein once said “its not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer”. The truth is that to succeed in life one must persevere. We must teach our children not to give up quickly or easily get frustrated, they must persevere. They must also learn from us as we adults also need to imbibe this virtue. They should learn that when Plan A fails then they can try plan B down to Z. Let’s think about our President Buhari who didn’t give up after several attempts to be President but persevered till his dream became a reality or Thomas Edison who kept on working on the light bulb till it finally brought forth light. The graduands sang a song titled “A Million dreams” and they must be taught that their dreams sometimes may not become reality if they don’t persevere.
Innovation is key: Encourage your children to be innovative. ICT and other forms of innovation are so important in today’s world and our children even as toddlers are able to do all sorts of things with devices. Encourage them by giving them guided access to these devices and equipping them through coding workshops and the like. The more IT skills they have they move innovative they will be.
Let them learn an instrument or vocation: With my daughter I’ve noticed how learning the piano has been beneficial in so many ways and has taught her patience, perseverance and even improved her posture as well as her aptitude for learning . Einstein was a prolific violinist at an early age and there is no doubt this helped his brain develop faster. Some of the benefits of learning an instrument include increases in one’s motor skills, verbal skills , spatial skills and also makes one happy thus improving mental health. All in all encouraging your child to learn an instrument early in life will grow the brain and even prevents dementia later in life so make plans for your little one to learn an instrument today.
Lets them interact with adults: Einstein’s parents encouraged him to interact with their friends when they came for dinner. They would ask him questions which he was always eager to get right. Spending time with the right adult company can be illuminating for a young child and we as our children grow lets treat them less like babies and more like the big children that they are. Cut down on all the baby talk as they understand us more than we even know.
Look at their reports : You can learn a lot from your child’s teacher,both verbally and through their written reports. We must realise that our children spend a lot of time at school and therefore their teachers know them pretty well. In fact for many children the way they act at home and at school totally differ. Some children are extremely independent at school and go home and become total babies. Talk to your child’s teacher and look at their report to gain better insight about your child and how to guide them. From my early years reports it was clear that I was always big on books so no surprises that I love to read and write. My parents recognised this and encouraged me to read and knew that I was generally a creative and should study something in the Arts. Let’s partner with our children’s schools and their teachers who many times act “in loco parentis” and nurture our children who may be little geniuses today but are destined for greatness!
*adapted from speech I gave at the graduation ceremony for nursery pupils of Chrisland School, Abuja on the 21st of June 2019.