The Bright Idea -The Importance of Nurture

In life, we are all influenced by our inherited traits (nature) and our environment (nurture.) Nature determines those traits that have been passed down through generations–eye color, hair color, height, learning styles, etc. Nurture determines how children grow into life–by modeling and setting the standards for decision making, moral and ethical choices, developing character, faith and belief systems. Both nature and nurture are important to how everyone grows.

Over my many years in early childhood, I have met many children (1000’s actually!) and I want to share a story today that shows the impact of a child’s environment, (nurture.)

On the day you were born, nature (and nurture) rejoiced.

The Story of The Bright Idea

He attended preschool for three years. He was eager and engaging. He was curious and always had a smile. He was very busy. As a result of his busyness, he often came to my office for a visit. When we were together, one on one, we would have the most wonderful conversations At age four, he was consumed by the world of Egypt and because he had a great capacity for language, he easily used words like pyramids, mummies and sarcophagueses.

His parents, aware of his ability to grasp information and his need for high activity worried about his future in kindergarten. They wanted him in a class environment with low student – teacher ratios. He was going to need more attention to keep him moving forward and the decision was made to test him for Kindergarten entry into a private school.

At the end of three months, placement letters were mailed and the parents learned that their son had not been accepted. His scores were skewed, and there were questions we needed to answer. On the vocabulary portion of the test, this child had tested at a 9th grade level. Amazing. On the reasoning portion, he had tested far below the ability of a four year old. Puzzling. Here was a child who had such an understanding of a world he had only experienced in pictures and books, the world of Egypt, but was not demonstrating connections of ‘alike and different’ at a level befitting his age. We did a second, unofficial test, and this time we asked questions along the way to understand his thinking.

Here is an example of what was on the test. One one line, there was a picture of a dog, followed by a picture of a cat and a light bulb. The child was asked to circle the picture most like the dog. We were seeking his ability to group like objects together. In this case, we were expecting him to circle the cat. He circled the light bulb.

Stopping the test, the question was asked, “Hmm, tell me why you circled the light bulb to match the dog.” He grinned and replied, “Oh that’s easy, they both had a bright idea!” In speaking with his parents, I found out they had a dog at home and the expression of “a bright idea” came from the parents telling him, “You know, when you have a bright idea, the light bulb goes off.” Here we see the importance, even in the smallest of ways, that the environment influences our children’s thinking. In this instance, he was simply making a connection based on what he had seen and heard at home.

It is our entrusted duty to understand our children. We must pay attention and if something doesn’t seem logical to us, we need to dig and ask questions until we do understand. We must allow space for each of our children to have bright ideas.

Here’s hoping you have a bright idea today, too!

See you tomorrow,

CK