Thursday, October 20, 2016

Standing Out

He walks into the room, this unassuming thirteen year old, with unsure gate, wondering what they will say.  Not knowing what they'll think, he slowly walks across the room and plugs it in.  The machine that he labors over with such precision holds the key as he presses play. As the sounds waft around the room, the recording engineers glance at each other with approval and surprise that this small stature boy could create such quality.

This, was our experience this past week as I had the pleasure of taking my thirteen year old to a recording studio to ask for direction.  Our son started to write music when he was 12 (possibly 11). With about a year of piano lessons under his belt, he found a music writing program called LMMS and was hooked.  He has been writing music since then and has over 35 songs.  Knowing that I cannot help in the area of music composition, I knew I needed to seek out advice.  The studio engineers said that he is very gifted and paired him up with a Master's student at a local university. He is now on the path to getting even better.

I am not writing this to brag on my son, but to encourage you.  Your child has a gift.  A wonderful gift that God gave them,  They have a gifting that needs to be found.

We found that both of our boys really developed their deep interests around the age 11/12.  Our oldest started researching bungee cord servers/port forwarding/ and programming around that age and ended up getting hired at 14 and 15 to write Java based programs/games for a large Minecraft server owner.  He also wrote a small plug-in that has been downloaded over 10,000 times.

How did we get there?  Tons of sweat?  Well, not really.

We did ,of course, take an interest in what they are doing, because I believe that is crucial.  When my kids try to tell me what they are teaching themselves, I hang on their every word, even if it doesn't really interest me (or at least attempt to look like I am- programming......ugh).

We blocked out special time for this.  On school days, there are no video games.  But, the kids can use the computer for any type of learning when they are done with their school work.  This is particularly hard on my 10 year old, but do you know what he did the other day because he was bored and all his friends got to play video games?  He wrote a story.

Teach where they need to be taught.  I have in the past and continue to teach our music boy piano lessons on a bi-weekly basis.  And, when our son expressed interest in programming, my hubby taught him and his friends a class in Java programming for 10-12 weeks.

As a family, we did not tend to do tons of activities and we started them later.  Currently, our eldest has 1 activity (soon it will be two), the second child has two, the third child has one, and the fourth child has two.

The biggest factor of all, I believe,  is to connect them with the resources they need.  Get them aligned with the people that can help them and guide them.  This does not have to cost a ton.  The grad student that my son will be working with does not charge much- he's a grad student.  The Java class was the cost of a book and a Dad willing to spend time with a bunch of boys to teach them.

Don't waste your time on trying to make your kid a jack-of- all trades.  We did try a lot of sports when my kids were 10 and 11, just to try it out.  They didn't really like most of them, so we knew that, that was not the direction in which we should go.  It is good to expose kids to those experiences, but once you've established that it is something they're not interested in, move on.  It's ok.  

Be encouraged, pour into your child, pray for your child and use those computer screens for good things.  Teens get such a bad rap.  They are often seen as lazy and unproductive.  But, that doesn't have to be the case.  Turn them from being consumers to producers.  You can find their gifts, you just have to turn their focus a bit to do it.