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The Process for Discovering Talent in Your Child

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Talent Process Graph

How do you find a focus around which your young person can start building a valuable talent? It seems like such a distant thing to hope for in the midst of textbooks, dozens of equally good curriculums, and too few hours in the left in the day to pursue anything else. It seems like it is just meant to happen to a lucky few to fall into a talent. But I am here to show you how that “luck” can be applied to each and every child in your household.

Here’s why every one of your children can develop a real talent while still under your roof:

You can start them young because you create a talent from the current uniqueness in your child’s life. You are not waiting for some mysterious future thing out there, that has no connection to your present life. Your environment of people and places, your family’s particular quirks and strengths, your child’s personal interests can all be merged together in a unique way that has passion and focus . You then give that focus a purpose by finding a way to bring value to others through that talent. This creates a feedback loop of encouragement, motivation, and productivity. This is a systematic process for discovering a viable talent that leaves plenty of room for passion.

Wouldn’t you like a taste of that kind of purpose in teenage son’s life? or how about your daughter finding great confidence in her unique productivity that she could carry with her all the way into her married life?

That is what the 10ktotalent process for discovering and developing talent can do for the young person in your home.

I give you here the basic process for discovering that kind of talent focus:

Step 1: Identify and list these items in your young person’s life into these four categories:

Personal Interests, Family Goals, Environmental Advantages, Academic Goals

Step 2: Merge together several items, one from each of the previous categories to create a poetically compelling fusion of strengths in your child’s life. On paper, try your hand at several of these fusions to see how interesting your options can be be. What emerges as the best is usually far superior than what you thought was possible before you started this discovery process.

Step 3: Take your favorite, most compelling fusion, and turn it into a believable and d0-able action statement for your child’s first 100 hours of talent focus. That is the beginning of your child’s talent. As your young person acts on it, his beginning talent will grow in complexity and branch out into previously unthought of opportunities.

Do you want help to make sure your son or daughter is on to the best talent possible? Then you may want to get my coaching help in this e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”

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Audio Interviews with Big Name Marketers

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michael senoff interviews

I recommend that every serious talent building endeavor have a component that is related to promotion and marketing, in order to get the word out that your young person does in fact have a valuable service to provide others. Remember that if a talent doesn’t learn to bring significant value to others then it really just is a big private hobby.

For that reason, I recommend that your older teenager loads up his MP3 player with Michael Senoff’s audio interviews with big name marketers. Your son or daughter will hear the inside story on how things really worked behind the scenes from very successful marketers drawn from different fields of service.

What I personally find really insightful is to hear these famous people explain how they used their uniqueness to create a name for themselves in their field and how it often involved partnering with a few key people in life. I don’t remember hearing about this kind of stuff in college. Michael Senoff boasts that if you get yourself on his newsletter alerts that he will plug you into “Free mp3 Downloads To 157 Hours Of Audio Interviews From The Best Experts in Marketing and Business”…and boy, does he deliver value. The audio-only format is excellent for listening while driving or anything else where you like to keep your mind stimulated. He also sells additional focused audio packages where he gets successful people in small niche markets to reveal step-by-step how they do their current marketing, so you can copy them. You can see Michael Senoff’s long list of audio interview titles here.

Of course, marketing skills only make sense in the context of being able to bring something of value to others. So if your son or daughter would like to build a long term talent to help create for himself an unusual lifestyle in his adult life, I recommend you go through my own e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.” In there I show you how to find something that makes sense for both your child and you as a parent, to be able to get underway, right away. If you already have a great talent going, then get cracking ASAP on your young person’s marketing skills so that he is not forgotten in that very wide-world.

Fandom Helps the Artist in Your Family

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Do you know that “fandom” can be used by your artistically bent daughter to start showcasing her abilities?

Google+ is one of the hottest places today to find a fandom community around which your child can find a pre-disposed and hungry group of enthusiasts who cannot get enough of new artistic material. This is a far cry from trying to get immediate friends and relatives to share your daughter’s same excitement for both her art and her subject material. By interpreting something the fans will love to talk about and admire, your young talented person will have an opportunity to get much needed feedback as to how the current market is wanting to consume art. Your teenager will start developing a good sensitivity to the needs of others. At the same time it is a great way to gradually document an online portfolio that is exciting and interesting for future employers, art schools, and future clients. Imagine if your child could gradually build her portfolio in a manner similar to Karen Kavett , who started college at 16 and finished at 20 with a track record of excellence and focus around delivering on her art?

In her FAQ section about herself, Karen says that her interests started in her young teen years and that she is now in her early twenties. She describes herself as having multiple skills that make it hard for her to have a traditional label as just a “graphic designer.” It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a focus, it means that she is getting so good in her service area that she is transcending the standard artist descriptions. Her website and her blog IS her living resume that screams availability and competence. Your son or daughter also needs a blog so that he can blog to his talent right from the beginning.

Would you like your talented teenager to be able to jump-start to that type of focused blogging? Check out my e-course “Blog to Your Talent: Learn How to Showcase Your Talent in 42 lessons

Talent Principles for Homeschoolers

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Homeschoolers have some advantages over traditional students that can be used to make talent growth much easier. Do you know what those are?

All children can develop talent of course, whether homeschooled or not. So before I tell you what the homeschool advantages are, let me first restate the principles for reaching amazing levels of performance that will apply to all young people in their quest for focus and excellence.

      • they start young (a few started late, but then they might not have had other normal family obligations such as in the case of Julia Child, who was childless – pardon the family name pun)
      • they practice daily (no exceptions here)
      • they actively decompose their talent into smaller skills (they were smart about what their talent was, not just hard-workers)
      • they merge skills and borrowed ideas from different fields (they wanted to break new-ground, not just preserve the past)

A great read for understanding the above principles can be found in these books that analyze how amazing talent was built in the lives of the top performers in the world.

Now, I am going to tell you what homeschool parents can easily do over other parents that will make the talent acquisition process significantly easier.

Homeschool parents can:

      • Use their environment and assets (so you don’t wait for a pie-in-the-sky opportunity that may never come)
      • Enlist their family goals and desires (so you don’t have dad rolling his eyes on another Saturday talent excursion that doesn’t make sense to him)
      • Have their child act out the talent in a way that gives value to others (so you don’t paint your child into a corner of being very, very, very good at something totally irrelevant to the marketplace)
      • Make the school curriculum feed their child’s talent (so your child has enough experience to actually have a chance at achieving lift-off by the time he is eighteen)

The more you can dovetail those assets into your child’s life, the more talent progress and focus can be achieved in a shorter period of time.

 

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Personal Interests Are Not Enough for Talent Building

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not just personal interests

 

To build a talent in your child’s life, you can start in any number of ways.

The most straight-forward way is to simply focus on one of the current personal interests your young person is exhibiting and then keep building it up until he becomes very good in that area. That approach can and has worked for a number of people. However this personal-interests only approach has a high failure rate for two main reasons. One reason for a high failure rate is that a young person may already be locked into interests that, as far as you can tell has no future for them as an adult. Bull-whipping as a sport? Comic-book reader? Okay, I might be exaggerating, but many interests do seem like dead ends. They enjoy it in their youth, but when they are adults, they become just sweet memories while they wish they could have had focused some of those energies toward something that would made have a long term difference to their lives.

The other reason for a high failure rate is that taking a personal-interests only approach can become too expensive for the family budget early on. This is because your young person is usually competing with thousands of others in the same single personal-interest space. For him to make big progress you must often drive a big distance and spend lots of money to access the best teachers. For example, if you focus your child on using her piano playing interest as the single skill-set for her talent, then the only way she can climb up enough to achieve lift-off by age eighteen is to be able to outperform technically the tens of thousands of other great piano players. This means parents paying for very expensive piano lessons or it means parents driving her great distances, or it’s even both burdens. Families stumble over those serious economic and logistical obstacles. And then they give up after having already invested so much. Others continue despite the high costs, but the rest of the family structure might fall apart in order to create that one child’s future.

The personal-interests only approach is high-risk and should be avoided when a superior strategy is available.

So what’s the better talent strategy? The superior strategy I recommend is to build a talent that combines not only one core personal-interest, but finds a way to create something very unique by merging family interests and family advantages with the personal interest. This creates a very robust talent strategy that can weather the changes of the marketplace and support the emotional needs of your family. It creates a super-charged environment in which your young person is driven not only by his immediate interests, but also by the natural energy emanating from the self-interests and assets of his family. That kind of talent strategy creates a motivation in your child that becomes almost indestructible.

Would you like personal coaching as a parent on how to implement that strategy? Would you like to find a talent for your son or daughter that withstands the ups and downs of the years? Check out my e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent

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Is He “Cursed” with a Talent of Video Game Playing?

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Listen to an interview of me by Dr. Melanie Wilson on the subject of how to find and discover talent in your children. (By the way, if you are big podcast listener, you may like loading up your iPhone or Android with all her other homeschool interviews on her UltimateRadioShow)

I think the most important point I wanted to get across in that interview is that talent is NOT found by uncovering some already existing, full-blown hidden gem of a talent in your son or daughter. Rather it is understanding that there are many gifts, assets, and environmental advantages your child was born into and was given and that from pool of good things in his life, you can grow one of a number of possible talents. The operative word is “grow”, not “accidentally fall into talent” or “discovered as he was working the pizza bar.” As parents, you can judiciously and intelligently decide to encourage the development of some skills and experiences over and above other ones.

You heard me right: your 13 year old son is in fact not “cursed” with a talent of video game playing, nor is your 15 year old daughter doomed to be a “talented” weekend soccer player. Yet, we can easily slip into that belief mode and resign ourselves into feeding even more those “talents” in our children’s lives that we instinctively know are worthless to making a difference in their adult lives. You feel guilty that since he is not “gifted” to be born a doctor or an entrepreneur then the logic says that is doomed to be an average worker in his adult-life. I suspect that the guilty, over-nurturing parental response is to increase the subsidy of a an otherwise ephemeral talent for a few more years of care-free joy. You tell yourself that at least he will have good memories of his early years before being hit by the dreariness of grown-up responsibilities. It becomes a classic self-fulfilling prophecy.

However if you make a clear list of all those unique things you have going for you as a family, you will surprise yourself at how many great things can be combined together to start developing a real long-term talent that can carry your young person into adulthood. It will make sense to both your teenager and to you the parents. Real talent SHOULD make sense for the long run, it should have a purpose outside of being something for personal pleasure or private challenge. Real talent starts small, has a humble beginning, but does eventually grow into something spectacular.

Need help finding that small thing to get a talent started in your young person’s life? I have your e-course here on how to do it and I can coach you through step-by-step through the process.

(Shhh! don’t tell everyone, but I give you a strategy in the e-course on how you could actually rescue and re-purpose game playing and hobby skills into something becomes a real talent)
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NEW! Coaching e-Course for Discovering Talent

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Dear friends of talent,

I’m happy to announce that you now have access to a full e-course on how to find and develop a real, long-term talent for your child. This is a new course and has never been available before.

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Not only can you get the workshop guide (which some of you already have), you can also listen to my wife and I talk you through each exercise of the workshop. You can also follow along as I guide another homeschool mom in discovering her 15 year old daughter’s talent statement for her first 100 hours of development.

Are you tired of watching young adults and young friends being tossed aimlessly on the shores of college life without a plan, or thrown into a world of low-paid entry jobs? If so, then finding a custom talent for your son or daughter that brings amazing value to others IS the answer to that problem.

Are you afraid that a real talent, not a cute hobby, would actually tear your family unity apart? I’ve got your answer.

Do you think that you don’t have enough assets or resources to come up with something that is meaningful enough for others to care about? I’ve got your answer.

Are you getting ready to default to mainstream planning because you can’t figure out what could possibly motivate your child enough to make it to a level excellence dramatic enough to change his future? Again, I’ve got your answer to that problem. too. The answer is found in the e-course “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”

Before deciding which course you want, would you like to first listen to one of the videos for the talent discovery e-course?  Here is the link to “Day 2: Identifying Personal Interests.” There, I talk about the role and limitations of personal interests and then I show you a video of an actual coaching session on that section of the workshop.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Harris

Talent Coach

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What I’m Hearing is This: It’s About Nothing

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This is what I’m hearing in this comedy clip:

“Everybody I know is a character going to college…and it’s about nothing…what’s college about? It’s about nothing…who says you have to have a story?…I have this idea about going to college for nothing…I think you may have something here!”

Seinfeld’s humor notwithstanding, please don’t let your son or daughter go to college without a real plot line. It doesn’t have to be “about nothing.” But if your young adult knows what his storyline is, then he will make decisions that will enhance his future. With his own storyline, then it could be a college degree for something.

Don’t have a storyline yet? I can help you find one that is unique for your child.

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We Were Drowning in the Abundance of Possibilities

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WE WERE DROWNING IN THE ABUNDANCE OF POSSIBILITIES
(and now you know why our grammar-curriculum is still in its box)

Excerpt from an interview that will be released soon about why I had to start the www.10ktoTalent.com website to show other parents how to uncover unique talent in their children: 

I could have my children memorize every single river tributary in South America, if I so chose, because the resources and topography is available at my fingertips. I could have them memorize the biography of the wives of all the vice-presidents of the United States, because that resource is available too, with cute little stories to go with it. I could move them onto another amazing grammar-busting curriculum, with accompanying Latin-roots lectures, because that resource is even better than all the ones made before in the history of mankind. 

We were drowning in the abundance of possibilities, but I was afraid that it would have meant we were going to have super-smart educated children, but not with anything that could actually make a dramatic impact in their lives when they become adults.

I love options and I’m very excited about what this abundance and access can do and I hope our abundance increases even more! But I was also afraid it would be equipping our children into adulthood with a library full of amazing illustrated cookbooks on every cuisine known to man, but no one would ever want to hire them because they didn’t really know how to cook any particular cuisine well enough.

So this then begs the question how do you know on what to focus that will make a real difference?…”

When the online teaching resources and knowledge databases for children grow another ten-fold, are you still going to make them drink straight from that fire hose of abundance? If no, then you need a strategy. Follow me and I will give you weekly tips and reviews and strategical advice on how to customize your learning so that it creates a better future for your child than you ever had available.
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Several Modest Skills in Unique Combination

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“Contrary to conventional wisdom, success in entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily related to being the best at any particular activity. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert comic series, explains his success this way:

‘I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The Dilbert comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected  in one person. That’s how value is created.’  “

*Quote from the book “The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living” by Chris Guillebeau.

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I wish I would have started as YOUNG as you did

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Guest Post by Renee Harris.

This question comes up frequently in homeschool communities:

“Is it worth sending the next children in line to college, when we are already not so sure that college is going to make a difference to the son that is currently in college? We are getting more flack from the possibility of not choosing college for our children, than when we first decided to homeschool years ago. What is your advice?”

Here below is my response:

I absolutely think it’s necessary to think outside the box with regards to our kids’ future and education.

Here’s what our family does:

Our two older kids are at the age where they’re starting to get questioned about where they’ll attend college, as if it’s a natural extension of their high school graduation. We’re training them to understand that college should work FOR them, not the other way around. It’s more important that they have a passion/skill/talent (call it what you’d like) that can bring in an income, and that’s the way we homeschool our kids.

My husband and I are using our skills as online business owners to teach our kids how to turn that talent into an income (notice I didn’t say “job” or “employee” – whatever they do to pay the bills in the future may as well be something they love doing). Beginning at age 12, it’s critical that we start identifying and developing that talent by giving them plenty of time to explore it in depth, while feeding the necessary subject content to go right along side it.

For example: our bladesmith will study history and science through the eyes of his craft, and he then picks up physics and chemistry as he needs it for his talent. Because he’s also a very good writer, we use the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum to weave what he knows about history and bladesmithing into his novel. It makes for a much more interesting book. He’s also active on forums (and Instagram)… because it is on the private bladesmithing forums where he’s able to interact with  Master Bladesmiths, and even meet them in person, which he’s done with a few of these men…

He’s almost 15 and what do the people at the top of his craft say to him?:

“I wish I would have started as YOUNG as you did”

I’m not too worried about what college he’ll attend, because IF he chooses to go to college, it will be a college that will support his craft and make him better at it. It’s hard to top one-on-one mentorship with the guys he’s already interacting with. He will have a variety of ways to monetize his craft online, so that he can work from home or anywhere in the world.

Yesterday I was chatting with my CSA guy about my 16 year old and told him that I was able to leave for 5 days and my son had no problem taking over the business with shipping the products and managing my emails. The CSA friend said, “Wow! He deserves his own email account!” Au contraire, mon frere! He already has several emails, his own business website that he created himself, and he’s on his second round of business cards. What’s most impressive is that he has a fantastic business that he loves that generates good income.

His current obstacle? He’s slowed down by the fact that he needs to help out around the house, he still needs to “graduate” from high school, and he needs to fit in regular kid life of taking hikes with his buddies and camping with his family. Here’s what he does… something unheard of a few years ago: www.reddingdrone.com (because we think outside the box).

If your homeschooler is approaching graduation and you haven’t thought out the following 4 years, then yes, maybe he/she should to go college. If you have a 12-16 year old, then I highly recommend you think through what the post-high school experience can look like.

I have to credit my husband for having our homeschool goals look different than most. Here’s some food for thought, because he always asks the “why” question :

Don’t let these excuses drive you to sending your kids off to college if there’s a better alternative (and maybe there’s not… it depends on the situation)

1.) I’m getting pressure from the relatives…. (is there a good reason to do what they tell you to do… like, are they paying all your bills?)

2.) The schools/gov’t are offering free/discounted education… (are you sure there are no strings attached, including an opposing agenda? Or the temptation of accepting something for free again and again? Or a mentality that will lure your child into Visa’s free t-shirt booth in exchange for your child’s signature?)

3.) My kids need the experience since they’ve been with me the past 18 years… (please clarify: as in the experience of being in a room full of their peers? or the experience of being on their own? or the experience of having a different teacher? I would discount the first, and find alternatives for #2 and #3)

4.) They’ll make more money if they go to college first… (Look at this differently than how we were raised. Times are a-changin’. It’s not entirely true, especially if they take a talent-based route through homeschooling.  Or, ask those who graduated from college in the past decade how that degree is working for them.)

5.) There’s status with a degree. (How many people have asked you where you went to school and what degree you have? We usually volunteer it, right? There’s also debt with the degree.)

All that said, we are NOT against going to college. Our kids may decide that they need a particular degree, certification or even status to do what they want to do in the future. If that’s the case, they’ll at least already have an income first, and then they can pursue the degree. They are strategizing what they need and where they’ll go to get it, but it won’t be to just attend Shasta College because they didn’t have anything else to do.

My husband has been blogging about this for the past 2+ years and has begun to create ebooks and video courses to teach people. Check out the guide “How to Discover and Develop your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent.”

Here’s what his ideas are all about: http://10ktotalent.com/what-is-10k-to-talent/

(Note: The 10K part doesn’t refer to money, but to time – it takes 10,000 hours of focused time to become really good in your niche, so the idea is to start early, when you have the energy, resources, and you’re not strapped with a mortgage, or, um… college debt.)

Renee Harris

Mom of 8

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Goody Two-Shoes

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Fight the darkness. This is a recurring theme that all of us need to hear regularly.

There is underlying mood in the general public that can seep in under our own doors and basically whisper to us that all of our efforts in the end is for naught. That good or bad, it is all for ashes and it makes no difference if we are wise in our efforts with our children or not. It’s all a crap shoot. But I’m hear to tell you that that is not true.

Here’s why I believe philosophically that it is not true: I use the Bible as my ultimate guiding authority and the Bible tells me explicitly that the actions of righteous people do matter. The choices of godly people and the efforts they make bear fruit, sometimes immediately and sometimes down the line. A false flagellating modesty poisons the confidence of many well-meaning moms and paralyzes them into inaction.

Mothers can start believing that their desires and efforts to do good with their children are ethically and spiritually the same in weight in God’s eyes as those of their drugged-out neighbor or of those of a profligate friend’s feeble attempts to hold her family together. The underlying sneer they hear is “you are a goody two-shoes.” They are told that since there are so many false people out there, then that can only mean they must be false and hypocritical too. And so, good acts are immediately labeled as acts of hidden malice and undiscovered hypocrisy. Good is labeled as evil. Well, that is false and unbiblical.

The correct attitude of the Christian is even though it wasn’t innate goodness that originally made us friends with God (and that of course keeps us humble and we are reminded of that), that God is now pleased to give us confidence that what we do now, once we are His friend, does make a difference in His eyes.

We are told:

“we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

(Ephesians chapter 2)

and “God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

(Hebrews chapter 6)

Instead you are instructed to awaken, get busy doing good, so that it can be said of you:

“Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
‘Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.’
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates”.

Proverbs chapter 31

 

Teaser Clip for Talent Discovery Workshop

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Watch the teaser clip for my upcoming talent-for-children video course. It is designed to accompany the guide “How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent”.

In this clip you will see an excerpt of Jimmie Lanley putting herself out on the line as an example of how it can be done by working with me on creating a First 100 Hours talent statement. This was to create a talent statement based on her daughter’s interests and her family’s unique advantages.

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Use Family Goals to Help Talent

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It is possible to have your child try to develop his talent without involving your family’s collective goals and aspirations. But here is why I discourage you from ignoring what makes you different from all the other families.

Any skill, and collections of skills, used in the development of a long term talent need to be applied in a particular situation and place in time in order to have an impact on the world around you. It’s all fine and dandy to say that your child wants to be a singer, but he will not be a singer in a vacuum.

(WARNING: If your child is well into developing his core talent of singing and he is only singing for his teacher, you need to stop your talent trajectory RIGHT NOW. You should make sure you are not developing an expensive HOBBY that has no value for others in his adult life. Your paid teacher does not count as proof that your child’s talent has meaning for the future.)

You would still need to decide on where and for whom your child would actually start singing. The place and the people your child would start practicing his singing will influence over time the type of singing he will favor over all the other types of singing he could practice. This is where family goals come into place. You could randomly let any number of accessible venues be an option for your child to perform his burgeoning talent.

Maybe you currently have the following choices:

  • a year-round Wednesday night community choir
  • a weekly Sunday volunteer group that visits retirement homes and would welcome singers
  • musical plays put on by a beloved community theater group
  • an international month-long jazz festival

Of all the above choices, there is in fact one that stands out over all the others as being the best choice for your child’s talent development. You can know there is one best choice and not just guess at what to get involved with.

Why can you be so certain? Because when you look at the list of family goals you wrote down in the talent discovery workshop, you are reminded that hosting foreigners happens to be an important family tradition that your family is particularly adept at carrying out and it derives great joy in exercising that kind of hospitality. By saying yes to the international jazz festival, you are foregoing the other venues. By saying yes to the festival, your child is riding the tide of your family’s positive energy to be part of hosting foreigners coming from out of town.

Some of those foreigners will actually be some of the smaller jazz bands who can’t afford full on hotel stays and your family is already on the list of hosting homes. Your son will continue to be the beneficiary of all the informal inside tips on how to interact with people from other cultures, but this time those tips will also help him to interact with the talented people in his field of interest. Not only that, but in anticipation of the international event, the rest of the family will be excited to come and watch him practice his year-round jazz singing. He’s practicing his jazz that much because he managed to join the the local amateur jazz band that will be opening the act for the bigger bands. He won’t be the primary vocalist, but he’s persuaded the adult members that he can add a lot to the variety of background vocals with his youthful timber.

By choosing to exercise his talent in the context of his parents’ family goals and traditions, he is maximizing the potential to be in harmony with the world around him and maximizing the likelihood that his parents are going to go all out in giving the time and space to practice his talent. This is why family goals should not be overlooked or despised.

Fear or Prudence – How Do You Run Your Homeschool?

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How do you run your homeschool?

Is it with fear or with prudence?

There is a difference between the two and the impact on your children will not be the same. Fear will cause you to hunker down and pass up opportunities that you should have taken for your children. Prudence on the other hand will know that it should keep its distance from some dangers, but it will willingly accept other opportunities, even though they also involve risks.

To discern the difference, you have to have a standard by which you can decide what should stop you in your tracks and what you should accept as an acceptable risk.

This is where the power of two people, two parents, the male and the female, really comes to shine. As husband and wife you can together assess the risks and opportunities from different angles and help encourage and re-assure each other as to what course of action to take. This is the proverbial balance between not letting a toddler play in the neighborhood street unsupervised, but allowing boys to climb trees. Bottom line you are important as parents to navigate those risks and opportunities. A hired teacher can not, should not, and will not make those decisions for you. It is your glorious burden.

The other source of knowledge I highly recommend is to be found in the Book of Proverbs, in the Bible. It is shock full of instructions on what to accept as acceptable risks and what risks should be avoided at all costs. It even tells you that whatever you do, you should definitely not accept gifts from the local mafia godfather*! Well okay it doesn’t actually that, but you judge for yourself if that verse would encompass a mafia godfather :)

It is also shock full of instructions to be diligent and to not be ruled by fear to the point of paralysis. It teaches you to accept that some risks,should they come to materialize, are outside of your role of responsibility and clearly fall under God’s providential will that a calamity should occur. In that case your conscience would be free of guilt. But without knowing what those good and acceptable boundaries are, you would not know what is reckless and what is acceptable action.

God is good and he teaches us how to recognize those boundaries.

 

* Proverbs Chapter 23: verses 1-3

When you sit down to dine with a ruler,

Consider carefully what is before you,

And put a knife to your throat

If you are a man of great appetite.

Do not desire his delicacies,

For it is deceptive food.

Experience History Through Your Music Talent

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How does a parent realistically provide for the time and energy to develop a super-talented child?

On the one hand, you might be concerned about ripping the family apart because 15 year old Susan needs to be taken every night to her training and taken every other weekend out of town in order to progress to the next level of her talent. If that’s the case and you are more tender-hearted, then you are likely to abandon the effort in order to save the family. If you are more ruthless, you might decide it is in fact worth ripping the nuclear family apart and spend every spare moment of the family’s normal rest time to go all out for it. If you do go that route, you have to be aware that parents might divorce over the toll that it can take. I’ve painted extremes ends of different types of reactions can have to the presence of real emerging talent in their son or daughter’s life. Nevertheless those dangers are common enough occurrences that could become a reality in your family if you don’t have a strategy in place.

So is there anything you can do that still allows you to not be quitters with regards to your child’s talent and still allows you to keep the family harmony intact? Yes, yes, and yes!

One of those yeses is because you can take advantage of the fact that you are homeschooling your child and are therefore in charge of your normal school curriculum. So for example, if your child’s long-term talent has music as its core skill, then you should seriously consider choosing a history curriculum that will study the time periods through the expression of the lyrics and songs written during that time. This means that if you are studying history one hour a day through the music and lyrics of that time, then you will automatically be turning that hour into one of pushing your child’s talent deeper into his intellectual understanding. If you also should choose to have your child practice in the next hour, composing new lyrics in the style of that era on the topics of concern in that era, then you would be combining her English writing time with talent development. Again, her art would be pushed deeper into her mind and broaden her musical abilities.

If you really pick-up the spirit of dovetailing school work with talent time, then you could also focus on the science of sound and mathematics of sound when you realize that you can choose to focus on an aspect of science and math that supports your daughter’s talent growth.

Once you start dovetailing your school time with your child’s talent development time, the stress of trying to be like everyone with normal school and the stress of trying to find a separate, additional time for talent will evaporate. Harmony in the family will be restored and your daughter will be compounding the benefits of what were previously completely unrelated skills.

If you sign up for my newsletter, the first thing I will send you is worksheet to help you evaluate your current school time against one of how it could look if you leverage it to develop talent at that same time. So forward this post now to a friend who’s looking to get ahead with their child’s talent. Have them sign-up for my newsletter of weekly tips and I will immediately send them that worksheet too.
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Cold Calling

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Thanks to a family friend who makes a successful living using the techniques of cold-calling, my oldest son, who is now 16 years old, was able to get some mini-mentoring tips on how to write a custom script for calling potential clients. He did well on following the detailed instructions and examples he was given by this sales professional and today he got his first acceptance for agreeing to see a full demonstration of the aerial photography service he is selling. He also followed through on advice he got from his parents on how to set-up an automated feedback form that helps uncover the true needs of his client base.

These mini sales skills are not unimportant, but vitally important in my son’s overall talent pursuit as he needs them to be able to connect with the right people who actually would find great value in his service. We are continuing to pursue talent in our family as a journey of gradually adding the right kind of skill mix that will help make him a real success in his adult life and not a flash-in-the-pan child prodigy. It is not a static pursuit where he is doing 10,000 hours over and over of the exact same skill.

This brings me back to the topic of what kind of talent your child should be pursuing. Talent should be used to bring value to others and should not be seen as a work to please just oneself. This sounds obvious, but it is not always understood that way during childhood. In order for a talent to not turn into a pure consumption activity for private enjoyment, it is important that you cultivate a self-awareness as as to why your child is involved in activities that demand lots of his time. For talent to gradually bring more and more real value to others, you son or daughter must adapt his skills to meet people where their true needs and desires are.

Discovering how exactly to meet those true needs of others takes effort. It also takes emotional courage to put oneself out there to test in small ways if others want your child’s talent in at least some small way. This is where you a parent can really make a big difference at an early age. Sons and daughters will take risks at exposing their work to the scrutiny of outsiders if they can count on you to guide them and support them in the discovery process. There will be failures and disappointing non-responses to your young adult’s work. There will also be some amazing “lucky” opportunities that pop up seemingly out of nowhere and push your child forward in a dramatic way. Your job as a parent is to help guard them from the extremes of despair and the extremes of arrogance.

 

Another way to promote your child’s talent to the right people is through the use of a blog documenting what he can do for others. Get your guide here below.
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The Rise of the Young Polyglots

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How does one explain the rise of polyglots, of young people being able to speak six, eight, or 12 languages conversationally?

There is something fundamentally different in the methods of the new young polyglots as compared to traditional school learning of foreign languages and it should challenge you to reconsider WHY you want your son or daughter to spend three to four years learning to speak minimal conversational Spanish or French. Listen to this interview and see if you can interpret the difference in approach.

Oh, and by the way, Luca is a native Italian and in this interview he is speaking English with an American accent even though he has NEVER visited to the United States. I know French very well and I’ve heard him speak that language flawlessly too. Don’t you also love the suitably grungy look that lets us imagine ourselves speaking another language like this in a Paris cafe? Awesome. Amazing. The learning revolution continues.

This is how you approach serious talent building in your child’s life. It’s not about doing school to your child, it’s about taking control and making school a slave to your son or daughter’s goals. Sometimes it looks traditional, sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work in a traditional learning format, you must jettison the traditional in order to multiply your child’s talent tenfold or hundredfold.

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How to Trust Her with Freedoms in the Teenage Years

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Guest post by Renee Harris:

I was so encouraged after writing “Philosophy for Five Year Olds.”

That’s because the feedback from several readers was that:

      1. those who recognized the need for laying a foundation of discipline and obedience before jumping into the books had no regrets of starting in this order, and
      2. those who launched their curriculum before having these important steps in place wished they wouldn’t have given in to the pressure of doing school at home.

As promised, I want to suggest a valuable resource that we found very encouraging when our children were young:

Raising Godly Tomatoes by Elizabeth Krueger

We love that book so much we bought ten copies and have shared them with friends over the years.

My favorite concept is what Elizabeth calls “tomato staking.” Have you ever planted a tomato plant but neglected to prop up the vines as the plant started to grow? The plant grows fast and wild, with large, juicy fruit that weighs the branches down. Without structure, the branches grow into a heap and the tomato fruit that should have been round, ripe and delicious instead begins to rot, feeding the local insects instead of your family.

The well-cared for plant is given structure, a nurturing environment, room to grow, with strong supportive stakes to hold up the weight of the heavy branches. This is how you should grow your child. Ideally, start when your child is old enough to communicate to start tomato staking.

How does Tomato Staking work?

From the time your child is an infant, he is within a few feet of you, learning from you, listening to your voice and tone, watching how you interact with those around you, and receiving plenty of love and attention. As your child grows, you still keep him near you, even if it is not within direct eyesight, and expect his behavior and actions to meet your expectations. What happens if you hand over this privilege of molding and guiding to someone else too soon? Your child’s behavior will meet the (probably low) expectations of those around him. Remember how difficult it is to hold another person’s child that you are babysitting to the same level of behavioral accountability as your own, even though your are at least physically responsible for the child’s safety? If not much is expected, not much will be produced. Then as your trust grows in the maturity of your child’s actions, you can gradually give the corresponding freedom.

It looks like this in practice: while they are still earning your trust, your young children are within feet of you. You are there to correct small infractions and prevent bickering conversations. While you may feel like this young person is violating your space, as your child is learning correct behavior, he stops becoming an invader and becomes a joy to be with. Your son will sit at the counter to watch you chop carrots, and your daughter will enjoy small tasks like shucking corn (however long it takes to complete the task!). He learns to respectfully listen while you chat on the telephone, and she’ll find joy in separating the nickels and pennies in the coin jar.

Watch what happens if you hand over parental trust to the general public before your child has earned trust from you:

      • Your five year old surprises you with mildly inappropriate language because he hears it from young children in the neighborhood. (How to avoid this? Limit the amount of random time your child spends with other children. We had a set schedule that our kids could spend with other kids, while on our property and within our view.)
      • Your seven year old says he is finished with a task when in truth, he only half completed it. (How to avoid this? At age five, you gave small tasks and made sure your son completed the job correctly the first time. With any issues of lying, he was disciplined, not ignored.)
      • Your four year old lies about the artwork she has so meticulously created on the wall with a permanent marker. (How to avoid this? When she was two, she already learned that she was not to touch the permanent markers, and for the first few years of her life, she was always with you to learn appropriate behavior until she could be trusted not to get into mischief with the markers)
      • Ignoring your child is taking the easy way out, at least at first – but you will run into problems later.

Have you ever met the family where all the children enjoyed the vegetables that were served to them at the dinner table? Did the parents wait until they were teenagers and then expect them to suddenly like vegetables? No. They were raised on good food and good habits. The same goes with the basics of trust, honesty, respect, finishing a job they started, and making good choices when no one is there to check on them.

Here’s why you need those basic character traits established now:

      • You need your five year old to be able to set up, play with, and clean up his Lego’s in the span of thirty minutes, with the timer set.
      • Your seven year old should have no problem finding sharpened pencils and paper to do his artwork with.
      • Your ten year old should complete his online math lesson and correct his own work, and then report to you to show you his work without your prompting.
      • Your 12 year old should look to you as his mentor, not his killjoy, and he will respect your ideas and suggestions.
      • Your 14 year old can be trusted on the internet to research his work without wandering to inappropriate sites, even though you’re not in the room to double check.
      • Your 16 year old can be counted on to take the car on errands and return with the receipts, purchasing the items on your list.
      • And so on…

If you can’t say that you have the trust you need in your child, you need to go back to tomato staking and build him or her up to that level of trust again…no matter what age your child is. This means even teenagers can be asked to give up their Friday nights with friends and give up their cell phones and their car privileges, if you find you can no longer trust them to handle those resources appropriately. Instead they can spend their time in close proximity with you at home until the trust rebuilds.

When you keep them near you in their younger years, you can trust them with the freedoms you grant them in their teenage years.

For more ideas on tomato staking, including what Elizabeth calls intense tomato staking, occasional tomato staking, loose tomato staking, and lifestyle tomato staking, read Raising Godly Tomatoes.

 

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Sew Your Way Through History

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How does your daughter make significant headway in a talent field that at first seems to have little to do with her standard history and other school curriculum? Take a page from the playbook of Heather in her article “Teaching History and Literature with Fashion.” Her daughter is into some serious fashion and sewing skill building and is combining her normal history and literature studies with what is going on in the world and role of fashion during the same time periods.

Heather Woodie:

“…study history with an emphasis on something your student enjoys. My eighth grade daughter loves to sew, and she has grown quite talented at it over the years. This year we combined literature and history with her love of making fashions…Allow your student to research different fashions over time, among classes of people, and around the world all during the same portion of the timeline…”

When you combine traditional learning time with a deliberate overlap into time spent building talent (a.k.a. dovetailing), you can change the entire course of your child’s adult life. If Heather keeps double-dipping her child’s time for serious talent (see her article), her daughter will easily be able to open doors with her skills by the time she is 18.

Consider the scenario where your daughter does sewing and learns to study fashion for four serious hours a day: at the end of one week, she can easily accumulate over 20 hours of skill building. That could easily be two daily hours during standard school time (such as history), with two daily hours after school time.

Compare the above scenario to a girl who takes one regular sewing class on a Saturday morning. The latter, which is really just a hobby, gives you only 2 hours of intense focus. That’s a ten-fold difference!

Rinse and repeat that focus and double-dip method for the next ten years. The mind boggles at the gap in expertise between the one who takes control of her learning in her youth and the one who waits to be told what to do after High School.

The irony is that even though this daughter is double-dipping her subjects (history+talent), I bet she will never forget her history. She is the one that will be interesting to talk to at a party. The child who is not double-dipping will struggle a couple years later to remember just the history details, even though it was theoretically less work. That’s the power of pegging relevance to what a child is learning from the textbooks.

Don’t have a talent around which your daughter can get motivated? I can help you find one that will get you and the whole family excited for her.  Walk through my e-course “How To Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours” and send me your questions by email.

 

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