On Monday March 2nd, I enjoyed the amazing opportunity to work with 14 3rd-5th grade Talented and Gifted students from the Canadian (Texas) ISD School. Also in attendance at this Cultivating a Strengths-Based Life workshop were an additional four middle school children, and 22 parents of the full group. The workshop is based on the Gallup Organization’s groundbreaking work in Strengths, and each child and parent is assessed via an online assessment for their strengths prior to the workshop. It is such an honor and joy to get to do this kind of work with families!
Having met last year one of the parents, Wendie Cook, through a program called Leadership Texas, one of several offered by Leadership Women, she knew I was a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach and that I conducted strengths-based workshops for kids, families, students, individuals, and organizations. She and the Canadian ISD principal invited me to conduct the session, which included Wendie’s own 5th grade son. As Wendie also serves as the Executive Director at the beautiful Citadelle Art Foundation, she was able to arrange for the workshop to be held there in one of their exquisitely beautiful rooms. We had plenty of room for tables and chairs in this ornate room, and there was even technology set up for a screen projector and microphone. What a great set up – so conducive to learning and experiencing something well beyond any regular school environment.
The session lasted about 90 minutes and was centered around activities and each of the kids’ Strengths Explorer report, which scores the top three (of 10) budding talent themes for kids aged 9-13. It was a robust session with wonderful engagement from both the children and parents, alike. One of the final exercises I like to do in this parent/child workshop is to “aim” and further develop a specific talent theme for the kids is to get a group of about two or three kids and their parents together and allow each child to indicate which of his top three talent themes he most wants to nurture and see developed. Then, we get the other kids and parents to brainstorm at least two developmental ideas for the kid to consider in this endeavor going forward. The exercise often yields a fresh perspective for the kid that is exciting and invigorating. The kids leave the workshop feeling seen and heard and often more deeply understood and appreciated as unique. They are emboldened and excited to venture forth in their newfound strengths-based life. The parents often leave with a new appreciation of this amazing person they’ve brought into the world, along with a renewed commitment to nurture the child’s development and honor their budding strengths.
At the close of most any workshop I conduct, I like to end the session by inviting each participant to share one thing they got from the learning experience. Amazingly, kids reported learning new things about their parents (as they also take the adult version of Gallup’s Clifton Strengths Finder and thus know their Top 5 of 34 assessed strengths). Meanwhile, parents said they gained a new vocabulary based on the Strengths Explorer assessment results to describe and understand their child, while some other parents said they saw their child in a new light based on the workshop. Another parent said he’d come to understand it would be beneficial to stop trying to expect his child to behave the same way he did – and instead realized just how different they were and thus couldn’t expect his child to think, feel, and behave in his own same preferred style.
And here’s the amazing part for me – I get to be on that intimate developmental journey with both parent and child. What a truly wonderful life and work world I have!