You bring a newborn baby home for the first time. The smell, smiles, noise, and excitement make up for the long sleepless nights! And, in a blink of an eye your little one transforms into an active toddler, then a persistent preschooler and ends up becoming a challenging teenager. Some of us enjoy the experience so much that we try it again and again just to realize that it doesn’t get easier.
Our first time around we welcomed a world conqueror. He was a strategist since he learned how to draw. He had a fascination for maps and really enjoyed designing and conquering imaginary cities. He challenged me to learn many facts that I would quickly forget after reading them the first time. It was a little frustrating to lose every single trivia question to my child. Remember the show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” That was our home. But despite his obvious interests, I also wanted him to get involved in other activities, even those he didn’t really enjoy, like sports.
The second time around I thought I had it all figured out. I was prepared. I had even memorized many state capitals by then, just to be prepared for a trivia quiz! Then I realized this time I was raising a ballerina and to make things more complicated she was a speller and she talked (a lot)! She was athletic, disciplined and persistent. So now I was given the responsibility to raise an athlete and I couldn’t even get myself to the gym! Right after learning how to walk she learned how to do pirouettes. She had another type of intelligence. To my surprise, again, I was challenged to learn new skills. And, like my son, I challenged her to take music classes that she didn’t really enjoy. But right before she could make me dizzy with her turns, I had an epiphany: Am I trying to fulfill all my unaccomplished dreams of becoming a famous cellist or an athlete through my children? That’s when the fun began! Acknowledging your child’s strengths and interests is the beginning of raising an innovative little mind.
In my career as an educator I have discovered that new babies are getting smarter, their interests more sophisticated, the questions are getting harder and they are more tech savvy! The reality is there is no way we will keep up if we don’t go back to the basics. We are raising children who will have careers that don’t even exist yet, spell words that are not yet in the dictionary and challenge them to solve problems we haven’t even begun to encounter. So, what can we do to raise our little ones to reach their full potential?
One good thing about getting older, is that you also become a little wiser, at least in what relates to raising and educating children. In that moment, you realize you don’t have to be a speller, a national geographic guru, a sports coach, a dance mom or a math wizard! There is just one thing you have to do to allow them to unleash their creativity: Treat them as competent thinkers, and build their confidence by allowing them to develop their interests!!! And, parents, we need to understand that it’s ok to not have all the answers! So, next time your child asks something you can’t answer, learn a very helpful skill that I practice on a regular basis. “I don’t know the answer; lets research this further.” When you change the mindset, you become a co-researcher in the learning process and you are helping cultivate an innovative mind. As for my children, they ended up being amazing despite my rookie mistakes and they are a source of great stories in the series, Raising the Amazing!
Marnie Forestieri is Chief Learning Officer and Co-Founder of Amazing Explorers Academy®. She is an entrepreneur with a passion for education and innovation. Marnie and the education team have been nationally recognized for their collaboration to design a line of STEM toys for Kaplan and for authoring (STEM PLAY). Marnie holds a BS in business administration, a Director’s credential and CDA (Child Development Associate). Prior to launching her own business, Marnie started her career as a journalist for CNN International and later became a vice president in a telecommunications company. of the year” and the winner of the “Center of the Year award by FACCM