The gifts that change your life are the ones you didn't know you wanted in the first place. I can tell the kids who get this kind of gift. They are different. Let me tell you how.
[callout]This post is written as part of Cathy Rubin's Global Search for Education. The question is “what one gift do you wish parents would give your students this year?” By definition, this is supposed to be a physical gift, because of course love and support and good character are all things we hope parents will give their kids every year. [/callout]
Four perfect examples of students who have gotten this type of gift were in my classroom today. It should be noted that today is a holiday. We are not officially “in school” right now. But these four students chose to go to school today. BY CHOICE!
These four students are part of my digital filmmaking class. Right now, they are finishing the screenplay to shoot in January. While their friends are shopping or sleeping, these Indy filmmakers are fixing the script. They are collaborating in Google Docs with their partners out of town. Meanwhile, they sent me messages in Dropbox about what I need to do while I'm stuck on the couch with the flu.
How Four Parents Helped Their Kids with Gifts
I believe that you can trace their engagement back to those “one presents” they got. Over the years, their parents have given them gifts to spark creativity. Since I've known these kids a while, let's talk about what they've received as gifts over the past few years.
The first student has been interested in graphic design since eighth grade. Two years a go, her parents bought her a graphic tablet. One year, she received Adobe Illustrator. She's not only designed an incredible cover for our annual, but now, she is the creative director for our movie.
The second student loves to dance. Over the years, her parents have given her toe shoes and dance gear. Sometimes she would get books about great choreographers. Other times, she would receive a ticket to see dancers in the major cities. So, by now, as a senior, she danced the part of Clara in the Nutcracker. However, with her ability for organizing things, she's our Production Manager.
The third student loves editing film. For his birthday, his parents helped him upgrade to an iPhone 7 because of the camera quality. He has tripods and other equipment to feed the flame of filmmaking. It is no surprise that now he is our film editor.
The fourth student in my room today has loved acting since she was a little girl. Her parents would spend hours helping her find just the right script for her monologs (it is no wonder, she's won state twice). She's gotten books. They've sent her to classes. Last Christmas, her family gave her money towards a trip to New York to receive acting lessons. Understandably, she's the lead actress.
These aren't the only four, but they are perfect examples of kids who have received that “one” kind of present. Gifts that help nurture the natural gifts of students not only excited students but brighten their future.
[callout]So, the one gift I ask you to give my students is one related to their passion. But not just related, something that requires them to create with it. [/callout]
Examples of Gifts that Nurture a Student's Passion
So, you ask, what are some examples?
- If they love makeup, give them a book about how makeup artists create distinctive looks and give them special brushes. Give them special effects gear.
- Minecraft fans could use a book about modding and point them to a place to set up their server. There are online classes about modding as well.
- For those who love digital filmmaking, consider some lenses for their phone and books about filmmaking. These kids might already have a YouTube channel and if they do, watch a few videos and give them things related to their channel's topic.
- Artists can use graphic tablets, software, or apps. In addition to instructional books, they could take online classes or look at picture books.
- Sportsmen might like a book on the strategy of the sport or tickets to a game or help going to a summer camp of their choice.
- Hands-on makers might like robots, a subscription to Make Magazine, or something to build.
- Budding scientists might like chemistry sets, telescopes, or other cool kits.
Know the Child to Pick the Gift
But to give that “one gift” you need to know the child. Look at what they love and help them create and investigate. Give them a gift that stokes the flame of curiosity and sparks their imagination. When you give gifts that spur kids on from consumer to a creator, they'll become more curious.
Curious kids never get bored. So this year, while gift cards might be the easy way out, consider doing research and encouraging kids to create and innovate.
And those “one gifts” add up. Be the one to spark a child's curiosity.
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