Q&A: Developing a Child's Gift

Each week Michele Borba answers your parenting questions right here on her blog. If you have a parenting problem or question leave a comment on this post and you may have yours answered next week!

My daughter is almost three and has an incredible ear for music. She sings beautifully and recognizes songs after hearing them just once. She can also identify the same singer of different songs when she listens to the radio. We try to expose her to all kinds of music, and it makes sense to try to get as many instruments into our home, so we're working on that too. My questions: how best to develop this gift? And how to utilize her love of music to enhance her life in other ways too?  --Anne

You have yourself a budding Mozart, eh? The best thing here is that you have identified your child's musical passion and gift. And because you have you can guide but not push her interest. That gift must be gently "drawn out."  Luckily there is wonderful research by Benjamin Bloom who followed over 120 highly talented kids (music, art, science, athletics, etc) to find out what if anything helped nurture those talents. Some of those kids went on to win Pulitzer prizes, and even Olympic gold medals. Here are the key findings you might use:

1. Identify the child's NATURAL talent. Not one you hope she has, but one she actually does

2. Find fun, natural ways to nurture the talent. No skill and drill stuff. No flash cards. Fun experiences. A trip to the museum, instruments to make and play, listening to classical music, watching and reading about composers.

3. Find a "connecting" teacher. The first teacher or mentor always nurtured, not pushed, the talent. She instilled a love of the talent so the child was motivated to want to pursue the talent on her own

4. Go with your child's lead. Challenge, accelerate and guide only as you see that interest.

Only later (middle school on) was a stricter coach or more regimented teacher hired. But by then the child was so in love with the talent the parent couldn't stop the kid if she wanted to. (Think of some of those stories about Olympic athletes in Beijing. Michael Phelp's mom exemplified Bloom's research to the T.)

While a child may have the talent, research clearly show the right support of a parent is what helps him or her soar (or fail).

Click here to read more of Michele Borba's Q&As, or leave a comment below with your own questions and it may be answered next week.

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12Secrets_Borba.jpgDr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know .

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