Monday, October 22, 2012

Focus on Unlocking Their Potential

Has anyone seen the video clip of Katy Perry signing ‘Fireworks’ with Jodi DiPiazza from ‘The Night of Too Many Stars’?  If you have not, take a moment and go watch this inspiring story, here’s the link:

Jodi DiPiazza and her family’s story really started me thinking about ‘potential’.  Jodi’s family found her the kind of help *she* needed (I’m sure they thought they were flying blind at times) for her potential to be unlocked.  What an amazing experience - to aid in unlocking a child’s potential.  Stories like Jodi’s are truly inspiring, especially considering what she has to deal with and overcome to reach her potential.  While Jodi and other children have exceptional circumstances and obstacles to face that not every child does, at the core of this story is an important message for all parents, grandparents, and well, everyone else.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (because I do that), families choose to home school for a myriad of reasons.  There is, in my opinion, *no* wrong reason to choose to home school.  Whether you wanted your children out of the public school setting for one of hundreds of reasons you would or never wanted to send your children to public school for one of the hundreds of reasons you wouldn’t, the reason(s) are valid for your family.  Once the homeschooling journey begins, a lot of us look around panicked (even if we won’t admit it) with only one question bandied about in our brains, “How do I do this?”  I know veteran homeschoolers that still have moments of doubt and worry over whether what they are doing is ‘right’.  Newcomers can have hours, days, weeks, months, or even years of doubt and worry.  We worry for different reasons.  Will our child be on grade level?  Will my child learn all s/he needs to learn?  Will they have friends?  Will they learn multiplication and division before Middle School (that’s one of mine)?  And on and on.  No matter what we say our worry is though, it boils down to just one thing really, in my opinion.  We worry that what we are providing for our children is what is best for them and that it will provide them with a secure future.  Am I right?  I think I am.

That brings us back to ‘potential’.  That’s what we really want, isn’t it?  We want to provide our children with that which unlocks their potential.  I’m not sure we articulate it in that way, I know that I didn’t.  In our hearts though, that’s what we really want, wish, and pray for our children – that their potential is unlocked so it can be realized.  We wish for them to move forward into their adult lives being the most they can be:  a job they love, a family who will love them and shelter them, inner peace, self confidence, and sense of well being in the world and they reach their potential.  Well, those might just be what I wish for Punky, but every parent has a ‘wish list’ for their children that in some form or fashion revolves around their children being successful and happy – however they define success and happiness.

As homeschoolers we are always searching for the next thing that will ‘work’ for our kids:  a curriculum, resource, game, or method that they will enjoy and be able to learn all they need.  We do this because we want them to ‘get it’, whatever the ‘it’ is.  I do it.  (Remember, I’m still searching for what will ‘click’ in Punky’s brain for math.)  But what if, instead of making the primary focus teaching her a specific skill, I place the primary focus on unlocking her potential?  It’s a shift in perspective and attitude really.  By focusing on Punky’s potential both she and I will look to what is possible, instead of what is actual.  In doing research on how to unlock a child’s potential, I have come across a lot of information for unlocking a child’s learning potential or academic potential.  That’s great, but that’s not quite what I’m talking about.  So, while I keep researching and experimenting, I believe that I will start with that shift in perspective I mentioned.  As Punky and I move through our day, instead of worrying or focusing on what she isn’t getting or showing interest in, I’ll focus on:

  • Being patient and kind when she makes mistakes
  • Modeling for her how to make decisions and find solutions
  • Promoting a ‘Can Do’ attitude, positive attitude, and solid work ethic
  • Encouraging her to have patience – that understanding will come with time and practice
  • Demonstrating to her that I expect great things from her only because I know she is fully capable of producing great things
  • Openly enjoying and celebrating her accomplishments

I’m not sure where this shift in focus will take us, but wherever it leads, I’m confident we will both benefit greatly and it will be a very appropriate path for us!

~Mari B.

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