I'm an education expert – how to help your child if they start excelling in school & what to do if they aren't | The Sun

IT can be an exciting time for parents if their child starts excelling in something at school – and it's often a sign of what they might pursue as a career.

But what can you do as a mum or dad to help your child develop if they show an affinity for a certain subject?

Richard Evans, founder of The Profs tuition agency, has explained the signs to look out for and how to encourage your child's development in that area.

Language skills

While most children are able to speak in recognisable sentences by the age of three, your child might show that they're excelling beyond their years in language "if their communication skills appear advanced or sophisticated".

"They are likely to pick up on new vocabulary quickly and integrate this into their speech," Richard said.

"As well as this, they may find it easy to follow multi-step directions such as, ‘Please go to your bedroom, get the yellow dress, put it in the washing basket in the utility room, so I can wash it for you tomorrow.’"

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And when they're older, children who are excelling in language are likely to be able to participate in more adult conversations, due to the fact that they can "pick up on dual meanings and hidden nuances in speech".

"They speak in longer, more advanced sentences and ask questions expecting thorough explanations or reasonings," he said.

To encourage your child's language development, it's a good idea for them to read as much as possible.

"Reading is a great activity for children to develop their grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation if they’re reading aloud," he added.

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Learning abilities

"Everyone is born with a desire to discover the world around them," Richard continued.

But if your child is excelling in their learning abilities, "their difference lies in their skill to accrue knowledge and learn about new environments quickly and effortlessly".

It's likely that they wouldn't need much direction or instructions when given a new challenge.

They also may have an "unusual ability to concentrate on activities for long periods of time".

"Learning will be fun for these individuals, they find interest in grasping new concepts, teaching themselves technical games, and mastering new hobbies," he said.

And to help encourage an already active learner, Richard suggests giving them "the control to investigate what they are interested in in a way that suits them".

"Allowing them the freedom to thrive and the ability to input in their education is paramount to their ongoing development," he explained.

Emotional traits

"Emotional intelligence is equally as important as academic intelligence," Richard said.

"As your child grows older, emotional intelligence can support healthy relationships, good mental health, and a positive attitude towards education or future jobs."

A child who is emotionally intelligent will be able to identify their emotions in certain situations, such as being able to say: "I feel sad when Mummy works late".

"They are incredibly empathetic, meaning they can relate to the emotions of other children their age, older children, and even adults," Richard added.

"They will have an appreciation of nature and enjoy alone time to daydream, observe, or just analyse.

"With the ability to pick up on others' emotions, these children become natural leaders who are charismatic and can help others to explore new directions."

To encourage a child who is emotional intelligent, "allow them to take responsibility for their actions earlier than you might do otherwise".

"Talk through decisions with your child and examine how their response might impact others and their feelings," Richard suggested.

"This process will support your child in developing their emotional regulation and self-awareness even further."

Behavioural traits

Sometimes, a child who is excelling beyond their years in a particular interest can show it through negative behaviour.

"They might feel bored if they’re given the same tasks as their peers due to being under stimulated," Richard said.

"If they’re advancing in a very obvious or distinguishable manner, for instance with advanced vocabulary, they could feel insecure about this when communicating with their peers, or even misunderstood by them."

They may also have "intense sensitivity to criticism" or "feel overwhelmed in crowded environments, as it is too stimulating for them".

"Finally, if your child is excelling beyond their years, they could create unrealistic expectations for themselves, leading to perfectionism," Richard continued.

"They may feel as though, no matter how hard they try, that they can never achieve or be enough."

To help a child in this situation, it's best to "be a good listener to your child’s feelings and really try to understand the motivations behind their actions".

"Ensure your child has a diverse social group and opportunity to interact with like-minded children who share the same interests, and those that have other passions and skills," he said.

"Celebrate their achievements routinely, provide new challenges, and remember they are still children who can make mistakes."

Hidden gifts

Some children have hidden talents which "can't be measured on simple pen-and-paper tests".

"Perhaps your child is a gifted entertainer, a chatterbox, a problem solver, or a leader," Richard said.

"Their daily actions can tell you a lot about their unique gifts, strengths, and limitations.

"If your child has a particular interest, engage them in extra-curricular activities where they can do more of what they love and meet like-minded individuals.

"If your child is engaging in more adult conversations or wants to elevate their skillset, consider finding them a tutor and search by subject and level."

If you are struggling to identify your child's gifts, you could try an online Skills Builder test, "which identifies the 8 key employability skills that all children should be taught as a priority in schools".

Richard gave the example that if a child displays traits of being "hands on", "creative" and a "perfectionist", they are skills strongly associated with successful chefs.

So, to encourage what could be a hidden talent, you may want to ask your child to help with cooking dinner or bake a cake with them.

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He added: "This should be a fun process. Take the pressure off ‘finding their talent’ and make sure to listen and compassionately support them in their activities.

"With patience and encouragement, combined with providing new opportunities and background enrichment, your child’s hidden gifts will naturally be unlocked, and they will be motivated to pursue their interests."

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