(picture taken from http://www.strengthsmovement.com)
The third general session at Conspire 2009 was with Jennifer Fox. Jennifer Fox is an advocate and speaker on helping parents and educators capitalize on children’s strengths, finding their potential and helping the to achieve that. She has a website called Strengths Movement as well as a book entitled Your Child’s Strengths.
You can check out my live blogging of this session here. You can also check out Matt Guevara’s summary of the session on the Conspire blog.
I was a bit disappointed by this session. I have been following Jennifer’s blog and resonate with a lot that she talks about when it comes to recognizing children’s strengths and helping them to develop those strengths. I’m not sure what I expected, but I feel that we simply received a canned speech with a bit of unsuccessful tweaking to spin it to an audience of children’s pastors. I got the sense that she wasn’t really aware of how we interact with kids and families because what we got was very general. I don’t know if that was her fault or she wasn’t adequately briefed about who children’s workers in a church context are.
In spite of the presentation, Jennifer did a good job of giving an overview of three different types of strengths: activity strengths (things you do that give you energy), relationship strengths (things you do for other people) and learning strengths (ways that you learn). She stressed the importance of looking at each child individually and resisting the urge to stereotype children into “good” and “bad” categories.
I was challenged to keep evaluating our methods of teaching so that we are always aware of different learning styles and strengths. I was also encouraged to keep helping parents to identify the strengths in their children’s behaviours and help their children develop those in productive directions rather than looking at challenging behaviour as always “bad.”
- How do you structure your program times? Do you make sure you take into consideration children with different learning styles?
- How do you respond to children who are more of a “challenge?”
- What do you do, if anything, to help parents and volunteers identify children’s strengths and develop them?