How to Discover and Develop Your Child's Strengths
by Jenifer Fox

Penguin Group, 2009. ISBN 978-0-143-11517-5.
Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Posted on 02/11/2009

Nonfiction: Life Lessons

"The need to develop children's strengths is a story that cuts across economic lines and knows no racial, gender, or cultural boundaries," writes Jenifer Fox in How to Discover and Develop Your Child's Strengths. Fox, an experienced teacher and school administrator, says "I write this book with the hope that it can offer a clear and well-lit path to a new way of teaching and raising children."

One of the most crucial pieces of advice I gleaned from this book is this: "The language parents and teachers use with and in front of children is critical to developing strength or focusing on weakness. Children need to know that adults believe in them even if their actions are not always strong." This spoke to me at a very personal level. My second son is extremely speech delayed. I get so frustrated with him after working on the same color for several months. I call him "slow" and "behind" when discussing him with others. Fox made me consider this: what if by labeling him slow, I am only adding to his problems? I need to discover my son's strengths rather than focus only on where he is failing.

The last portion of Fox's book is a "Create Your Future, Play to Your Strengths" Workbook. She offers numerous activities for parents and educators to use with their children. One of my favorite activities involves displaying a variety of photos of people doing things. I did this with my four-year-old daughter. I would ask her which of the activities she found most appealing and why and which was the least appealing. This was a great way to stimulate discussion as well as get her to think critically about what she does and does not like and the reasons behind her preferences.

How to Discover and Develop Your Child's Strengths by Jenifer Fox is an invaluable resource for every parent and a useful tool for every teacher. I learned a lot and will keep it handy as a ready reference. Check out this book and learn how you can unearth your children's hidden strengths and polish them so that they can lead the most successful and happy lives possible.

Jenifer Fox is an educator and public speaker who has worked in public and independent schools as a teacher and administrator for 25 years. She is currently the international leader of the Strengths Movement in K-12 schools. She holds multiple degrees. Visit her website.

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