Strengths Based Learning

Strengths-based Learning: Helping all Children Realize and Achieve Their Limitless Potential

(Part Three of a Three-Part Series)

Last month, we introduced the first two letters of the SPOT method, a strengths-based learning tool that helps parents and educators identify the unique strengths of a child to optimize their learning style. SPOT stands for: Strength observation, Progress over perfection, Opportunity to shine, and Teach, try, and tap into strengths. This month, we will discuss the second part of the SPOT Acronym: O for Opportunity to shine, and T for Teach, try and tap into strengths.

Opportunity to shine. When our children utilize their strengths in their daily lives, they are afforded the opportunity to shine, and ultimately experience success. In turn, their self-efficacy increases, giving them a reason to persist, even when something is challenging. In essence, when students can use their strengths and shine, they will experience positive emotions and feel good about themselves.

Consider a tennis player with a strength of perseverance who only has one chance at accomplishing a specific task. If the coach tells the player that he has one chance to hit all ten forehands in a row over the net to move onto the next challenge, he may become frustrated if he fails to hit all ten forehands consecutively the first time. He may believe that perfection is more important than progress. Conversely, if the coach instructs the player to hit as many forehands as possible in a row over the net in the next 5 minutes, he will be able to exercise his strength of perseverance if he in fact fails on the first try and may hit more than ten consecutive forehands over the net in the allotted time. Consequently, the tennis player will have demonstrated his strength of perseverance with an opportunity to work at the task without fear of immediate failure, eliminating the anxiety of failing and allowing him to experience positive emotions and feel good about himself.

Creating Opportunities for our children to shine and demonstrate their strengths is a great way to build self-confidence. It allows them the chance to believe in themselves, realize their capabilities, and leverage their strengths. Also, there is a chance for them to recognize missed opportunities for utilizing their strengths and identify other areas where their strengths may be used, creating an awareness of future opportunities to let their strengths shine.

Teach, try, and tap into strengths. In the final step of the SPOT process, it is crucial to Teach children to explicitly identify and reflect on their strengths. Help children develop a strengths-based vocabulary by teaching them the power of “yet.” Instead of a child saying I am not a good artist, encourage them to say, I am not a good artist “yet.” This language will encourage children to approach their strengths in a new way and potentially help them discover new strengths they didn’t know existed. Maybe painting is not a child’s strength, but by alternatively using their strength of creating and building to try sculpting, they may discover that they are skilled at creating sculptures, which is also a form of art.

Teach your children to find ways to tap into their own strengths and the strengths of others. Learning more about the strengths of others, and harnessing those strengths collectively, will help both individuals, teams, and all of us achieve more together. For example, your son may be very decisive and great at making decisions quickly and effectively, while your daughter may be great at seeing all possible consequences of a decision. In isolation, the outcome of a hastily made decision without considering all the possible consequences of the decision could end disastrously; however, if made together, the decision will be well thought out and potentially lead to a more desirable and positive outcome.

Through the continued observance and inquiry into our children’s Strengths, ongoing development and practice of focusing on Progress over perfection, close-attention to allowing students the Opportunity to shine, and consistent commitment to Teaching our students to tap into their own strengths and the strengths of others by utilizing the power of “yet,” we will continue the strengths-based movement and SPOT the strength in ourselves and the strength in the children we serve, empowering our children with the strength to realize their limitless potential and make the world a better place.

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Shayne Horan

Shayne M. Horan, Ed.D., Vice President of Schools at The Help Group, brings over two decades of transformative leadership, excelling in opening campuses, surpassing enrollment targets, and achieving ambitious goals through strategic planning. A visionary and thought leader, Shayne’s collaborative and thoughtful approach continues to drive sustained success. With a proven track record in educational growth, top performance accolades, and holding advanced degrees in Leadership and Educational Administration, Shayne inspires positive change and empowers individuals toward a greater cause.