Individual Strengths as the Focus

Are School Marks Everything they are Made Out to Be???

Have you ever been in conversation with another parent and that parent just goes on and on and on about how wonderful their child is in school as you sit there nodding your head and smiling, afraid to comment much? Or perhaps you read post after post from a friend of yours about their child making the honor roll or that they are celebrating yet another A+. Meanwhile, your own child’s marks are average or below average. Does this mean there is something to be concerned about? Does every child have to be gifted in school to be valued in society? Shouldn’t individual strengths be the focus? 

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Maclean’s magazine printed an article in August, 2007 that goes against the majority of society’s belief that school marks are a predictor of future success. In this article, Michael Thompson, co-author of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys quotes,

“School is a place where former A students teach mostly B students to work for C students.”

Whoa… say what?!?

students in a classroom

Yet, if we really think about this, we can appreciate the quote. There are many people that are extremely successful today that did not breeze through school. Some, such as Jennifer Aniston, Sir Richard Branson and Dav Pilkey struggled with dyslexia. However, they did not become defined by their dyslexia, and instead allowed their strengths to shine!

Temple Grandin is another example of someone who is successful today, yet struggled with many aspects within the traditional school setting. Thankfully, she learned to not only let her own individual strengths shine through, but she now focuses on helping others let their strengths shine through as well.

Academics and Strengths

Academics ARE important and necessary. However, when we focus on strengths, students become motivated to learn in a way that works for them. This diminishes feelings of inadequacy and builds self-confidence. Students still need to learn concepts that may be difficult for them but become confident that they can achieve success in school and in life because they feel successful in other areas. Celebrating an individual’s strengths instead of focusing solely on improving weaknesses helps with this.

It’s of extreme importance to focus on our children’s strengths. All children have strengths! For some, reading and writing will be a breeze! For others, it won’t be. We need to help where we can, but we also need to honor our children for the natural strengths they DO have. Reading is NOT a natural process. If left to our own devices, we would learn to walk and make verbal sounds, but we wouldn’t learn to read without being taught. Some grasp this easily and others do not, possibly due to factors that are interfering with the process. To learn more about possible factors interfering with the reading process, please check out my eBook Ruling Out a Reading Difficulty: A Parent’s Guide to Determining the Root of a Reading Difficulty and How to Help… Without the Overwhelm!

False Appearances

When there are factors interfering with one’s reading ability, it can easily appear that the individual is not trying or is just a bad kid. Yet, this makes no sense. Why would someone be in a building for so many hours each weekday to not try at all? As one of my former academically struggling high school students who did his assignments, but rarely handed them in, stated to me, “This way, I have control over my marks.”

That student certainly cared and put effort into his assignments. Furthermore, he successfully held down a part-time job while attending school, something not every student does. It’s tragic that his confidence in his ability as a student had been so beaten down that he rarely handed in assignments. However, he did have numerous individual strengths that I wish had been more valued for him in school! He was artistic, could build structures like no other and was a strong verbal communicator! I sincerely hope he is allowing these strengths to shine in his adult life today!

How About You?

I would love to know your thoughts or experience with individual strengths being the focus. Please let me know in the comments below.

Strengths as the focus; are school marks everything they are made out to be; student strengths and weaknesses; kids struggling in school; attention deficit disorder kids; kids struggling with reading; kids strengths and weaknesses #studentstrengths
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