22 August 2023 Talent Development in Children

Parents are always on the lookout for their child's gifts. 

"Is my child gifted in math, music, sports, or arts?" is a common thought, be it consciously or subconsciously. Most parents, if not all, would wish for their child to have a special talent. While that may be the case, what's more to know about the talents of children? 

Talent can be defined as a natural ability that one is an expert in. It is extremely important that we identify and nurture it from the very beginning.  

“Creativity follows mastery, so mastery of skills is the first priority for young talent.” This is believed by Benjamín Bloom who was an American educational psychologist who made contributions to the classification of educational and Co-curriculum objectives. According to Benjamín Bloom, if a child’s talent is achieved successfully, teachers’ and parents’ fundamental duties of teaching basic skills and subject matter can be immensely rewarding. 

Discovering and cultivating unique talents in children and young people, and watching those students and their talents grow are among the great joys of teaching.

Stages of Talents Development 
Children go through distinct periods of development as they grow from infants to young adults. During each of these stages, multiple changes in the development of the brain are taking place. What occurs and when approximately these developments transpire are genetically determined. 

According to David Henry Feldman, a college professor, who researches the growth and development of children, there are 4 stages of talent development through the ages. 

4 to 10 years of age – During this stage, children explore and observe the environment to expand their mind.  

10 to 13 years of age – Their talents begin to develop with the help and guidance of their teachers and role models. Competition and praise play an important role in their talent development. 

13 to 18 years of age – Children learn that dedication and commitment are necessary for the development of their talent. They learn their responsibility and the needed sacrifice to grow. 

18+ of their years – This stage marks the period where children decide to instill their talent as the choice of their career in the future.  

Discovering the Talents of a Child
However, despite the Talent Development Stages that demonstrate how children develop their talents as time passes by, not many children reach their full potential. Even if a child has high potential or talents, they may not reach their full potential unless full support is offered from their parents and teachers who can teach, shape and guide them. 

Parents and teachers are tremendous role models that help shape the behavior of the child. Children especially in their early ages are dependent on parents and teachers to help set their goals and cultivate diligence to achieve them.  

The first thing that parents should take note of is to identify what talents they have.  Typically, identifying a child’s interests can start as early as 3 to 4 years of age. 
 

There are several ways to identify a child’s special talent to help children be better prepared in the near future according to Dwight Bain, an executive coach and mental health counselor.

Ways to Identify a Child’s Special Talent
1. Observation of their lifestyle
: Parents ought to pay attention and observe what their children are doing in their free time and what type of activities they are interested in. Parents should also join in and engage with what their children are doing to have a better understanding.

2. Academic achievement
: Academic performance can help show which subjects a child is good in so that parents can have a rough idea of  the field of interest the child has. 

3. The media children consume
: Observing what children like to watch on television or online can help identify your child’s interest. 

4. Consult children’s teachers
: Teachers spend a lot of time with children, so they ought to possess a vast awareness of your child's skills, abilities, advantages, and disadvantages, especially with regard to their academic performance. Having timely conversations with children’s teachers can certainly help identify their unique talents.

5. Listen to what your child is curious about
 Take ample time to listen to children. If there are any topics your child is interested in, he or she will ask these questions more often than usual. It is important for parents to engage with them and provide the answers to these questions to expand their knowledge and cultivate their interest. 

This process of interest goes on throughout their childhood when they develop and gain more experience in their field of interest. Children cannot ignite and develop their talent over time on their own. Only when parents are aware of their child’s interest, the right support, be it financial, time, and advice can be provided. 

Tips for Development Progress
1. Start early. 

Children should be exposed to a variety of activities as early as the age of 3 to 4 years old. Parents are responsible to encourage their children to engage in the activities they have an interest in. Parents can be great mentors or coaches themselves when they join their kids in the activities they enjoy. 
2. Practice makes perfect
Having talents is tremendously useful, but it is not enough to succeed. It takes effort, time, emotional, well-being, and strength to tap into the gifts your child has in order to succeed. 
3. Setting a Target
Setting up a future goal and target that the child wants to achieve can help motivate them to achieve bigger goals in the near future. It also keeps them focused on their passion. 
4. Cultivate a growing mindset. 
When a child has achieved their goals, they have to understand that they are not perfect, thus the need to continue striving to be better. 

Likewise, when a goal is not achieved, children need to be trained to have grit and a mindset of determination and perseverance. To succeed, one must meet many hardships and failures, just as ice hockey player Wayne Gretzkyp puts it, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take’. 

Regardless of the myriad of fields out there, it is important for children to be exposed to them to enable them to see where their interest falls into. Talent development starts with its identification, and talent identification starts first and foremost with parents. 



References

Armstrong, P. (2016). Bloom’s taxonomy. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.

Bain, D. (2009). Destination Success. Revell.

Gagne, F. (1991). “Toward a Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent.” In Handbook of Gifted Education, edited by N. Colangelo and G. A. Davis, pp. 65-80. Boston:  
                 Allyn and Bacon.