Recently I read a book called "Your Child's Strengths" by Jennifer Fox.
I really liked this book, but it is not for everyone. I am not so much into fiction, but really like books about things that apply in my life. The author of this book is the principle of a girls boarding school. Her purpose in writing the book is to combat the all too often weakness focus that we have as a culture. She talks about her feelings of the negative problems of the way the school system educates children. While, in the book she does state her opinions of the school system for the first several chapters, she also discusses how you can work with schools to change the focus. Her main point in that section of the book is that our school systems are based on older educational ways of teaching and philosophies, when there have been more recent ones that are better. She discusses how we often focus on the weakness in a child and improving that area of skills than we do on the strengths of the child. Because of this many children and adults leave school not really knowing or understanding their unique strengths and often very smart people thing they aren't because they have struggled in some aspect of education. She defines strengths not only as something someone is good at, but as something that a person loves doing. She talks about ways we can foster our children's growth so they end up with too negatives placed upon them as they grow. She also teaches how we can help our children recognize their strengths and how we can recognize our own.
As for me, I have learned what some of my strengths are through the processes she gives to help discover them. The first recommendation she has is to write down all of the household chores that you have to do. Then figure out which ones you like more than others and then break them down into smaller pieces. From this I was able to learn some things about myself. One of my habits is I have a tendency to clean in spurts and I get really into cleaning when I do. I learned that one of my strengths is I like challenges where things go quickly require sequencing and have results that I can see quickly. That is why one of my daily jobs that I like doing is cooking. I like the challenge of thing about several parts of the meal and when to do what so that they are all ready at the same time. When I discovered this, Drew (who is the dish washer in the evenings) said, oh, that is why you don't try to minimize how many dishes are used - since that I time I have tried to take that into better account.
Another strength I have discovered I have a strength for fact finding. That is why I always wonder why i don't have any strong interests like other people, no hobbies at least none that stick for long. The reason being I love to learn about something, anything from accounting to business stat, to sewing to cloth diapers until I get enough information on the subject and then, my interest wanes. Which leads me to the next part of that strength is I love sharing what I have learned with other people. The favorite part of my previous job was when I had the opportunity to give presentations or teach people individually about something I was on a fact finding mission about. These two strengths make a pretty good combination, learning about something then teaching about it. I still have a lot more things to discover about my strengths but thus far this is what I have found.
As for Anna, she is still very young, but as I was reading this book (which was at least a month ago at this point) she came to me after her quiet time which she was busy doing for a long time that day and said "Mommy, I am so happy!" I asked her why and she said that she wanted me to come a see what she had done. I went with her to her room and she showed me her wall. She had taken start stickers (luckily they are easy to take off, but I am not going to anytime probably until we leave) and put them on her wall some of them overlapping in a very deliberate way. There were hundreds of them so it must have taken her the whole of quiet time until she was finished. I am not sure exactly what the strength is there, it could be she likes things that require detail and creativity, it will emerge one day. Anyway, I took a picture of it:
Another strength that I have found that she has comes when chores are involved. I am also not sure what this means exactly, but she has had no interest in doing laundry lately during which she can earn money. She also hates putting clothes away. I was praying one day about what job I could give her that she would enjoy and the answer was dishes. At first I thought 3 is too young for dishes but then I gave it a shot. For a week or so she liked it, then not so much, until Drew said she likes loading the dishwasher. So for the past 6 weeks or so her job has been to load the dishwasher for the breakfast dishes everyday. The result, she now has a job, she never complains about and does every day with a simple reminder "finish your breakfast and don't forget your job" which I say when I leave the room to go and get Lizzie ready for the day. When she comes out of the kitchen, her job is done, every day, no further discussion. Also, I am not sure what that means but it may have something to do with the fact it is an adult job, that needs to be done in a specific way, cups in one place, plates in another, cutlery in another.
Anyway, the whole point of discovering your strengths is so that as you grow you can do things you love more often and things you don't less often. Wouldn't you love to find a career where your natural abilities and things that bring you energy are used often? I am certainly glad I have one!