“My child is interested and talented in this. Is it too early for him to start?” This is a common question which I heard over my past 7 years in Nullspace. My answer is always the same, it is never too early to start building a portfolio. Another good news is, you can play a crucial role too. Earlier in this year, I wrote an article in Linkedin on how tertiary students can build their portolfio. In this writing, I shall share 4 ways on how you can build your child’s portfolio.
It is never too early to start building a portfolio.
Building a portfolio (or strong resume) has been around for some time as employers value skills and passion more than just certificates of academic rigor. For students, there are various opportunities by educational institutes to enrol students based on their holistic education and achievements. Students aspiring to enter Medicine in National University of Singapore (NUS) can apply through for discretionary admission under the Exceptional Individual Scheme. Students aspiring to enter a Secondary School using their achievements and passion can do so under the DSA-Sec Exercise, a scheme introduced by the Ministry of Education in 2004.
The next question is, how do we help to build our child’s portfolio?
1. Discover their Passion
Passion is key to success. Passion is the fuel to drive your child forward in his own journey of exploration. Passion is also crucial to turn distress into eustress, a positive and healthy stress which will keep him going when the going gets tough.
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” – Steve Jobs
As parents, you have many opportunities to interact and know your child better. A simple question over dinner can be useful – “You enjoy reading Horrible Science, what do you like about them?” Apart from reflective listening, your child’s passion can be traced to their field trip experiences in museums, outings and co-curricular activities. Since their growth from a toddler, you must have noticed their innate ability to certain subject mastery, such as music, sports, art and many more. And viola, you are on your first step to helping them discover their passion.
2. Join Local Competitions
After discovering their passion, your child must have been exploring their passion at greater depth, be it through attending formal lessons, self-directed learning at home, or learning off materials from the library. What is the next step? How can you show their interest and allow them to hone their skills?
My answer – join local competitions. There are many benefits for joining competitions, the most obvious being the competition as a platform to challenge oneself and showcase one’s talent. The less obvious, but important benefit is for oneself to experience success, failure, teamwork and perseverance. I strongly believe that these are much needed skills and experiences in the world we live in today, and it’s good to start young.
In Centre for Robotics Learning, we never fail to recommend our students who have completed the robotics courses with us to bring the game up the next level and represent the centre in local competitions. We have seen students who won awards and some, who didn’t. Nevertheless, the most important takeaway is that these students grew alongside and walked away with lessons which normal classes cannot deliver.
3. Have a Meaningful Project
Innovate on your child’s skills to have a meaningful project. If he is a talented musician, why not volunteer and give a performance in the community, such as in an Old Folk’s Home? If he is a talented coder, why not build an app to solve some of the problems we faced in our daily life? He can also teach his peers and organise his own workshops to share his passion with the people around him.
Last year in California, 12 years old student, Shubham Banerjee, built a low-cost braille printer out of LEGO Mindstorms EV3. It shows his skills, innovation and passion to help the society around him. His inspiring story has been taken up by various news press since. In my earlier article, I have shared 3 ways to empower your child’s learning. Perhaps your child’s invention or project may be the next headlines tomorrow too.
4. Document their Learning Journey
Taking photos is an excellent way to document your child’s learning journey. With the increasing use of smart phones, it is not an excuse that one is unable to snap photos or even videos of your child in action. Compare certificates and photos, which are more appealing? I will vote for photos and they are a good way to build portfolio, be it online e-portfolio or a folder filled with photo essay of your child’s work.
Now that you have some ideas on how to start building your child’s portfolio, let’s head back to where we began – discovering their passion. Here’s a short TED Talk by Midas on finding your passion. Midas Kwant was 12 years old when he started building iPhone apps and has recently been invited by Apple to visit their headquarters and attend their annual conference in San Francisco.[iframevideo] [/iframevideo]
Top Featured Image is by Flickr User markgranitz