Strengths

Many months ago, my sister-in-law suggested I buy a book called Strengthsfinder 2.0.  So I did.  I bought the book; I took the online strengths assessment; and thus began my fascination with identifying and nurturing strengths in myself and in my children.

A few weeks ago, I bought a book by Jenifer Fox called Your Child’s Strengths.  I’m reading it slowly, highlighting and stopping to think along the way.  I also find myself talking about strengths to anybody who will listen.

I was reading this book in the back of the theater at my daughter’s play rehearsal last week.  A man, the musical director with wild gray hair, was walking around chatting with different parents.  He approached me and asked what I was reading, so I showed him the cover of the book.  “Oh!” he said, “That sounds like a thinking book.  Why are you reading it?  What’s it about?”

After a couple of minutes, I’m sure he regretted asking.  I told him the general idea of the book, and I was enthusiastically explaining the idea of identifying and developing strengths in our children when I saw him begin to rock from one foot to the other and look around the auditorium with a “How can I get away from this lady?” look on his face.  So I finished off with a quick, “It’s a really good book.”  And I let him escape to a person who can make normal small-talk with strangers.

So rather than holding complete strangers captive to discuss this book, I’d love to talk with y’all about it over the next few days.  I can sip my coffee and type some thoughts here, and you can grab a cup of coffee or hot cocoa and read and comment.  And if you want to buy the book and read along and discuss, that’d be even better!

Ok, for today, I’ll just leave you with a quote from the book —

In some respects, what we label as weakness in children is not a weakness at all — it is simply that the child doesn’t come into the classroom sharing the talent, passion, and learning style of the teacher.  The teacher’s job is certainly made easier if the student comes in already loving the subject and is able to learn it as easily as the teacher did.  This, however, does not make a great teacher.  . . . True teaching talent reveals itself when the teacher struggles to engage students in the process, not giving up until he finds a way to bring about understanding and competence in the student.  I think everyone should read that last sentence a few times.  It says every child can and wants to learn and that it is the teacher’s and the parents’ responsibility to discover how to make that happen.”

What do you think about that?  Do you have a child who has been labeled with a weakness?  How can we discover the key to helping our children learn?

I have some ideas, but I’d love to hear what y’all think.  And I’ll devote another post to the story of my experience with my boys.

Ok, now it’s your turn — comment. 🙂


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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Strengths

  1. Lana

    I think you’re on to something there. I remember walking in to my seventh grade science class and telling the teacher I hated science. She put me at a desk right next to her desk, and she managed to help me learn to like science. Mrs. Lindsey was a REAL teacher!

  2. Lucinda

    I believe it is the easy way out for teachers to say that a child can not learn or that it is the student that is having difficulty. When this happens that teacher is not teaching to the student, but just doing a job. Teaching is more than a job, it is connecting to each student and discovering what matters to them and making the content connect with the student. If a teacher says it once and the student does not understand, then say it another way and continue until that student does understand. This is what teaching is all about. I am very saddened by the recent economic times that call for public schools to cut funding, possibly teaching postions, and increase classroom size. And, still there will be the expectation for each student to come out with a level of learning. What is happening that lawmakers and budget writers do not understand that cutting funding to schools is cutting our future? It is highly tauted that education is the road to a better future, but yet not all are able to get the best education, just what can be minimally provided. If ya’ get it, ya’ get it, is many times the attitude. And yet education is not supposed to leave any child behind.

    • julieabel

      Thanks sis for the book! I can not wait to dive in. Please continue to pray for us. Tomorrow we have a meeting with Jessa’s resource team to discuss yet again a possible IEP, learning plans, bla bla bla. I’m exhausted already just thinking about it.
      Maybe I can woo them…:). Seriously I am so glad you continue to explore your child’s strengths, and not just try to make them fit the mold. We both have such special children. God is good for giving us such blessings! Thanks for being a great sounding board for me.

  3. Candy

    Your book sounds like another must read, Jennifer! I have been reading a book called How Am I Smart, by Kathy Koch. I heard Dr. Koch speak at the MOPS convention this Fall. Wonderful, wonderful stuff about the 8 intelligences and how to identify them in yourself and in your children. It’s been such a blessing to “figure out” some things about my kiddos. Particularly with my son, Caleb. I’ve come to realize his great strengths in thinking with logic. I’ve been able to bring him to an understanding of his own mind and how it works too. We’re constantly grinning at each other and saying things like “that’s just not logical”. I’ve been able to help him understand that because of his logical mind, he’s set to succeed in math – a huge stumbling, bumbling, struggle for him in the past two years. He’s learned to slow down, think with his logical mind, and conquer his math. His teacher (a fabulous one!) took time to call us last night to say he’d made his first ever A on a math assessment. Joy of joys! He was thrilled and I was too. I was even more thrilled that she took time out of her day to call and say “good job” to him and point out that his hard work is paying off. She’s taken great steps to accomodate some minor changes in the way they test (spreading out the problems and allowing more room to work, reminding the kids to double check their work every 10 minutes during testing, etc). She’s a teacher who’s in teaching for the right reasons and for that we are blessed! I still need to buy Caleb the t-shirt that reads “i before e, except after c….weird!” … He loves that shirt because his logical mind says, “hey, it’s so not logical that “weird” can’t follow the rules.” Enjoy your book and pick up mine if you have a chance. It’s a gem!

  4. Candy, thanks. I remember listening to a speaker at MOPS who discussed the 8 intelligences. Fascinating. I’d love to read that book. I’ll be looking for it next.

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