There has been much publicity about the 16-year old who just pocketed 30 million dollars for selling his computer program to Google. Now, everyone who comes into my office wants to know how to raise a genius! Clearly, if there was a formula it would have been bottled and sold to Google already, and I would be 30 million dollars richer.
A genius is typically classified by extreme curiosity, creativity, and prescient vision. That means a child becomes mature before his time and is able to connect the dots to create a new invention that no one has been able to see before. Nature and nurture intertwine as one’s natural abilities and parental experience create an environment where a child is free to explore and “run away with a concept”. For example, Steve Jobs’ father taught him the rudiments of electronics and he used his father’s garage “lab” as a springboard to put together ideas previously unknown.
There are things that we can do to stretch our children’s abilities. As parents we can ask open-ended questions. Eliminate the “yes and no” questions and start asking “what if” questions. We can read, read, and read to our children. Once again, asking open-ended questions about a simple book, i.e. “What else can you think of that may be orange? What would an apple look like if it was orange? Can you figure out a new ending a story?” Play with concepts, play with words, and you might have fun as well.
As a parent we want to participate in our children’s learning – but leave the judgment behind. When nurturing creativity, there is no right way to do anything. We can give the tools but not the end result.