Striking a balance between academics and nurturing talent

Often times some children do not get to grow their talents because they never got a chance to discover them. They never get told while at home or school that they have the potential to sing, dance, tell stories or excel in sports.
Supporting children to grow their other talents gives them better future prospects. (Net photo)
Supporting children to grow their other talents gives them better future prospects. (Net photo)

Often times some children do not get to grow their talents because they never got a chance to discover them. They never get told while at home or school that they have the potential to sing, dance, tell stories or excel in sports. Education experts, however, advise that as children undertake their academic journeys, their other talents need to be groomed as well, a role that should be played by both teachers and parents.

According to Milcah Aziz, the founder of Blooming Buds Nursery School in Kacyiru, Kigali, there is more to what children can do besides academics if parents and teachers spend more time with them.

Aziz says nurturing the other talents makes the education experience enjoyable since children get breaks from studies and participate in different activities such as sports, music, dance and drama.

“I encourage parents and teachers to talk to children to know what they love doing and observe them as they grow so that they establish those areas other than class work in which a child can be shaped,” says Michael Tumusiime, the examinations and accreditation officer at Rwanda Education Board (REB).

Tumusiime says REB gives guidelines for schools to develop extra-curricular activities, adding that teachers should put more emphasis on activities like debating, writing and drawing, among others.

He says schools should not be about cramming what teachers teach but rather an interesting environment that allows students to express themselves freely. He, however, adds that for this to succeed, parents should give their children special care and a lot of attention.

Tumusiime also says school leaders should not only be so obsessed about children passing with high grades, but rather spare time to spot their other talents that might turn out to be useful on the job market.

“The world outside school does not only require grades but rather needs people who are active, creative, and can express themselves well,” he says.

Tumusiime urges parents to support their children by attending school activities as this gives children more motivation.  

“I call upon all school leaders to make schools an interesting place to be by packaging the curriculum well so that children do not only study but also improve their talents. Schools should also hire multi-talented teachers who can guide children beyond class,” he says.

For Collins Odhiambo, a teacher and counsellor, grooming a child’s other talents helps them to learn to think critically, believe in themselves, improves creativity as well as their competitiveness.

“Talents are vital in every child’s life and teachers need to play their part in making sure every child participates in some extra-curricular activity since it is through this that they avoid getting bored which improves their overall performance,” says Luke Karemangingo, the headmaster of Gahini Secondary School in Kayonza District.

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He adds that nurturing children’s talents gives them a bigger chance to succeed in the future as they have many options from which to earn a living.

“For example if a child is skilled in sports, they can later earn big as professional sportsmen instead of only looking for office jobs,” he says.

Karemangingo also says that teachers need to interact with children at school more closely so that they advise them on what they can do better.

He also discourages the belief by some parents that if a child participates in other activities like sports they would perform poorly in class.

“Teachers and parents alike should advise children to always do the right thing at the right time. This way children learn to create a balance between academics and the other activities,” he says.

Karemangingo calls upon parents to always support their children, saying if for example a child is good at rugby, football or netball, they should buy them the necessary sports equipment or should take them watch their role models in action so that they gain more morale.

Parents’ views

Jean Marie Vianney Mwesigwa, a father of two who resides in Kacyiru, Kigali, says talent should be nurtured while students are still young so that it grows as they get older.

Mwesigwa says children should also be encouraged to develop a “working plan” for their various activities so that they know which activity to do at a particular time.

“Parents should spare time to discuss with their children how they spent the day and the challenges they faced. Doing this inspires the child to work harder as they feel more loved,” he says.

Josephine Mwiiza, a mother of one, advises parents to create opportunities for their children.

“If you notice that your child loves music, take her for concerts, help him or learn how to play a guitar. This helps them to awaken that dormant talent in them,” she says.

“Parents need to observe their children on a minute-by-minute basis because some talents unfold slowly. Observing children while they play could be one way to realise their talents,” says Nikki Bush, a parenting expert and author.

She also says that each child has something that they are talented at and it is a job for parents to help discover that talent and help their children to develop it and use it for the greater good.

Bush says one of the things that parents have to be weary of is looking at talent through the traditional eyes, but rather in the form of mathematical ability, artistic ability or apathetic ability.

 She adds that, parents have the first 12 years to uncover their children’s talents and should not put them under pressure to do many activities all at once. “Exposing children to different cultures, experiences and environments can help uncover certain talents.”

 

Their thoughts...

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Musinguzi

Wilson Musinguzi, telecoms employee

Heads of schools and parents through parents’ committees must ensure that each child participates in at least two sports activities of their choice before they leave primary school level. Parents should always attend school activities to motivate their children in whatever activity they may be doing.

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Umutoni

Jane Umutoni, student

Parents and teachers should not judge a child depending on their activities of interest, but they should rather support them. For example, if a child likes drawing, just support him or her by buying them drawing boards, shading brushes, colours, and all equipments they need while drawing and designing. so they eventually achieve their dream.

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Rubaduka

Rubaduka Frank, student

I have noticed that children’s talents can be improved through exposure. Children need to be given a platform to do what they desire. They also need love and moral support to keep them impressed hence perfecting their talents. Children need enough extra-curricular time when still little so that they discover their potential.

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MC Isingizwe

Marie Claire Isingizwe, student

Parents should link their children to experts in field related to their talents as this would enable them know how much efforts they need to put in and also know the challenges they are likely to face and how to overcome them. Teachers should award children who perform well in any activity so that others can learn from them.

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