Working to One's Gifted Potential

Concerns frequently expressed by parents include, “I just want my child to be able to reach his potential…or work to his potential…or realize his potential.” Parents want to know how they can help their child achieve this level of competence. They want the schools to provide an appropriate education so their student will reach this proficiency. They may be frustrated because the youngster isn’t interested in using his aptitude to its fullest.

The phrase “reaching one’s potential” raises a lot of questions. First of all, how do you know exactly what anyone’s potential is? How would you know when it was reached? Is it fair to ask a person to always do his best? What impact does asking one to reach her potential have on the actual output of a child?

Let’s take this out of the realm of the gifted student for a moment; instead, apply the term to yourself. Do you know what your potential is? Have you achieved it? If you have, I assume you have worked hard to get there. Would you want those around you to expect you to be at your peak performance all the time? Are there periods in your life when you have achieved great things and periods where you’ve just glided through the days or years?

Does it cause a lot of pressure to strive to work to one’s potential? How do you know when it’s too much pressure?

What is the point of working to one’s potential? Is a person a failure in life if he doesn’t work to his potential?

These are all thoughts on which to ponder. Exactly what are your expectations of your child or your child’s school or yourself?

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