How to nurture your gifted child

Here’s how to help nurture your gifted child’s interest:

Help them grow

Chat to their teacher and expose them to community art organisations, library events, sport clubs and so on.

Support them by showing an interest in their hobbies and talents. For example, if your child has a knack for numbers, check their homework, or if they’re good at athletics, attend their practice sessions.

Let them enjoy life. They are just kids and it’s good for their emotional health to enjoy childhood games and being with friends.

Check out these three inspirational kids. Talk about gifted!

Traigh Hunter

Traigh Hunter

Traigh is a regular grade 2 learner who enjoys playing with his friends and four sisters, but to the South African and international golfing community, this eight year old is a rising star. He’s been playing golf since he was 14 months old. His mother, Tiara Pathon, says his love for golf comes from spending every day on the golf course with his grandmother and step-grandfather, who look after Traigh when she’s at work. Traigh’s father is also an avid golfer.

‘Traigh learnt to crawl and took his first steps on the golf course,’ says Tiara. He took his first professional swing when he was 18 months old. ‘We made the decision to give him coaching on a weekly basis and continue to foster his talent after coming in third place with very little training,’ she explains.

His growing list of accomplishments includes being the Western Cape regional champion in the five- to six-year age category, coming first in 16 tournaments and taking part in international tournaments.

He made his mark on the international golfing scene last year when he took part in a tournament in Malaysia with 140 other young golfers. He played against 14 boys in his age category and came third. In August this year, he played in the Kids Golf World Championships held in America.

Tiara says the game has had multiple benefits for her son. ‘Golf has many rules and teaches kids etiquette and discipline. It has taught him that anything is possible and the power of positive thinking.’

Melumzi Saphuna

Melumzi Saphuna

Born and raised in the Masiphumelele township in Cape Town, 16-year-old Melumzi discovered his musical talent by accident. It started on the day that he followed a ‘beautiful sound’ that captivated him. The sound was coming from a community hall, where he found a group of musicians playing violins. Even though he was nine years old and had no experience with one of the most difficult instruments around, the sound moved him to audition to join the community programme led by violinist Titia Blake.

Being a violinist has not only given him the prestige of being a professional classical musician who plays at weddings and other events, it has also helped him discover his natural creativity, leading him to his other talents for singing and drama.

‘Mastering the violin gave me the confidence to stand in front of crowds and many other opportunities I didn’t imagine for myself,’ he explains. He adds that it has also taught him the value of working hard and how to manage his time effectively – skills that take some adults a lifetime to learn.

‘Finding my talent and working hard so that I grow in my crafts have shown me that hard work pays off. If you love something, be persistent in practising and you will reap the rewards.’

With his multiple talents, he knows that everything in his life has its place and that he has to respect its order.

For instance, he knows he has to practise music for two hours on Mondays and Thursdays and work with his drama and music group on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Tshepang Tlale

Tshepang Tlale

Tshepang was three years old when her older sister taught her how to play chess, which is considered one of the most mentally challenging games in the world.

‘I have cherished playing chess since I can recall, from the days when I was a fair player to the days when I met my coach, Vincent Choko,’ she says.

Tshepang won the African Junior Chess Championships when she was 13, which gave her the title of Woman International Master. She says playing chess is an on-going lesson on how to have a winning attitude.

For example, instead of feeling defeated by financial challenges that threatened to stop her from travelling to tournaments out of the country, she started selling chess boards to raise funds.

‘Chess has shown me I hold the power in my life to have any kind of effect on me and on others. Through chess I have learned various character-building skills that have made me the individual I am today; for example, strategic thinking, pattern recognition, patience, abstract thinking, creative thinking, being calm under pressure, respecting the role time plays in our lives and sportsmanship.’

She advises young people to seek out their talent, even if it is not in competitive sport.

‘Give yourself time and discover what it is that starts your enthusiasm. And when you have discovered it, never let it go.’

Read more: Here are three more young superstars – Levy SekgapaneGabriella Mogale and Aiden Kaylor