Is Your Child Naturally Gifted?

Here’s how to nurture instinctive talents.


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Whether you live with a young chess whiz, a budding baseball star, an aspiring actor or all three, you’ve probably pondered the best way to encourage your child’s natural gifts and abilities. When is the right time to begin lessons? How can parents encourage persistence without pushing? Is it even possible to balance the interests and pursuits of all the kids in your care? Turns out, how parents approach the development of passions and interests has a big influence on children’s long-term happiness. Read on for age-by-age guidance on helping kids find and enjoy their natural gifts.


Early Years

Adore it, Explore it

Parents of toddlers and preschoolers are flooded with options for early classes and activities, from peewee soccer to music class and ballet. This stage in a child’s life, however, is not the time to focus on skill development, says Hillsborough-based parenting coach Whitney MacDonald, a former educator and athletic coach who founded creatingmen.com. Early childhood is a time to immerse your child in real-world experiences and observe what ignites his or her interest and excitement.

Some parents fear that skipping out on toddler classes might hurt their child’s early academic development. In fact, the opposite may be true, says Maria Castelluccio, head of the academically advanced Léman Manhattan Preparatory School.

“Open-ended exploration of the arts forms the foundation of early literacy — reading, writing and language development,” she says. “Exposing your child to music and visual art at a young age develops unique opportunities for self-discovery and creativity.”


Elementary Years

Lesson Learned

In early elementary school, activity exploration should still focus on fun, MacDonald says. Around age 10, many kids are ready to begin formal lessons, provided that participation is fueled by their own interest and not by parental pressure.

It’s important to find a coach or instructor who emphasizes the importance of practice over performance, injects a sense of playfulness and communicates well with parents. When an instructor or coach promises to turn your child into a concert pianist or competitive swimmer, steer clear.

Lessons can carry an additional commitment to practice. Practice is all too often accompanied by whining, procrastination and parental frustration. Keep practice sessions brief and plan them for periods when your child’s focus is likely at its best: after breakfast on a weekend, not after a long day at school. When a child is truly resistant to practicing, consult with the instructor about ways to encourage progress without piling on pressure, and consider that your child might not be ready for lessons.


Teen Years

Equal Measure

By the time kids reach high school, they’ve often hit their stride in their activity or activities of choice. When families have more than one child, parents juggle scheduling, transportation needs and financial commitments for a number of different pursuits. Because the time and money required for different activities can vary widely, one child’s talent might steal the spotlight most of the time. When it comes to investing time and money in kids’ activities, parents of siblings should think about equity, not equality, MacDonald says. While the time required for siblings’ different pursuits might not balance out, it’s important to make each child feel like they are equally valued in their parents’ eyes.

“It’s about saying, ‘OK, your sister has this dance thing, but I’m going to make dedicated time just for you,’” MacDonald says. “The child has to feel that inner gesture, and to know that they’re just as important as their sibling. Because all children ultimately want connection with and recognition from their parents.”


Malia Jacobson is a nationally published health journalist and mom.

 

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September 2019

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

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Erwin Road
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

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Open Arts
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Morrisville, NC  27560
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Compare Foods Parking Lot
2000 Avondale Dr.
Durham, NC
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City Market
214 E. Martin Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Discover Historic Yates Mill—a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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See Peppa Pig and her friends embark on a new adventure in this live stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $29.50 and up

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Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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See Peppa Pig and her friends embark on a new adventure in this live stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

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Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
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Crowder County Park
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Apex, NC  27539
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Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Telephone: 919-460-3355
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Telephone: 919-460-3355
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Robert Gibbs discusses his latest book, "Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation." Ages 8-12. Purchase the book from Quail Ridge to reserve two seats for the event and a...

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Quail Ridge Books
4209 Lassister Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Cost: Free

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Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
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Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
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Lake Raleigh Meadows
Campus Shore Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This year's theme is beetles. Interact with entomologists and other scientists...

Cost: Free

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North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.707.9800
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Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This year's theme is beetles. Interact with entomologists and other...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.707.9800
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Cost: $5

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Piney Wood Park
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Cost: Free

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Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
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Knightdale Station Park
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Sponsor: City of Creedmoor
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Cost: Free

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Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
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Cost: $5 suggested donation; free for children under 12

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Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Telephone: 919-560-2719
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Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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River Park
114 E. Margaret Ln.
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Cost: Free, though there is a $3-5 fee for mill tours

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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5101 N. Roxboro St.
Durham, NC  27704
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Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Live bands showcase this event that also features a kids zone, vendor village and food trucks.

Cost: $11.25 – $20

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden and Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Live bands showcase this event that also features a kids zone, vendor village and food trucks.

Cost: $15 advance tickets, $20 at the door. Free for ages 5 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden and Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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The Teen Advisory Board invites you to meet up with other gamers to mingle, snack, and test your skills for prizes! Guests are welcome to bring their own controllers/fightsticks. Register by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
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The Clayton Center presents country crooner Billy "Crash" Craddock in concert. Sing along with Crash as he belts out his biggest hits, including Knock Three Times, Rub It In, Ruby Baby, Broken...

Cost: $25 plus taxes & fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second Street
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: The Clayton Center
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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