By Ellisa Schlotzhauer,
Primary Vice Principal,
Panyaden International School

One of the greatest gifts a parent or teacher can give children is to help them discover their own unique talents. Even before the age of two, children are already showing preferences for specific toys and activities and wowing us with their creativity and talents. Helping students to discover their passions and nurturing these interests is a key part of Panyaden’s holistic approach. At Panyaden International School, we work with parents to nurture these talents by putting the child at the center of learning.

In my years as a teacher, I have seen how a child is more likely to be fully engaged in learning when they have some element of choice in a task or can relate it to their own interests. Although they pursue their interests instinctively, your child may not be aware that these interests may be hidden talents, not just something they enjoy doing. Our role as parents and teachers is to encourage children to pursue these explorations.

Children’s talents won’t always match their parents, so don’t be surprised if your child ends up as the first gymnast or musician in your family. But how can we help children to further discover those elements that make them unique? How should we nurture them? What should we avoid doing that could discourage these interests? The list below offers a few suggestions for how we as parents and teachers can help children to discover and nurture their own individual interests and talents:

  • PAY ATTENTION: What is your child playing, watching, listening to, and talking about most frequently? Engage in further discussion. Join in the activities to show your support whenever you can.
  • BE SUPPORTIVE: Encourage your child to sign up for clubs and activities that are of interest.
  • EXPECT CHANGES: Show Khanti (patience). It is perfectly normal for interests and hobbies to change over time as children grow and mature.
  • AVOID PRESSURE OR JUDGEMENT: As a parent, we may want our children to be interested in the same things we are. Be careful to avoid this.
  • AVOID MAKING COMPARISONS WITH SIBLINGS OR FRIENDS. Making comparisons can negatively affect confidence and make students less likely to try new things or take calculated risks.
  • MONITOR PROGRESS TOGETHER. A child who can see his or her own progress is automatically encouraged to keep going

Choosing a school that nurtures a child’s individual talent is important. Our philosophy at Panyaden International School has always been to put the child at the center of the learning. This academic year 2020-21, we are excited to do more of just that by launching a new version of our learner-centered projects called ‘Becoming an Expert’. In these projects, students are given the freedom to focus on something they are passionate about, in areas as diverse as coding, sculpture, Mandarin, and even gardening just to name a few. Mentored by teachers, they create plans and work on projects, presenting their unique skills in their own way. They select, plan, and pitch their project idea, and finally present the work. We can’t wait to see what they will come up with!