Look for their Brilliance: An Educational Therapist’s Top Tip for Supporting your Child’s Education

Nicole Connell
3 min readSep 22, 2022
Photo by Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash

There are many ways that we can support children’s education. One challenge that I hear from parents is that they notice their children’s light growing dimmer and dimmer as they get further along in school. From years of working with children, I have found that this highly actionable tip is one of the best ways to deeply support kids and help keep that light shining bright.

Look for their brilliance.

Here’s the why and the how.

Here’s what I know as a human and as an Educational Therapist:

We all want to be seen for our unique brilliance.

It feels really good.

But not everyone gets that experience.

Everyone is uniquely brilliant.

But not everyone thinks they’re brilliant.

This may be because most schools only recognize certain types of brilliance.

Like memorization, logic, focus, and following the rules.

It can feel crushing to have your brilliance go unrecognized and all of your tricky areas pointed out and measured.

This is exactly what happens to so many children at school.

But their brilliance is far larger than most schools can even imagine.

Empathy, baking, and speaking up are all kinds of brilliance.

Good sportsmanship, creative problem solving and painting are all kinds of brilliance.

There is also brilliance in noticing and checking in on someone who looks like they could use a hello and a smile.

There is also brilliance in humor, visual spatial awareness and kindness.

There are so many kinds of brilliance.

Unfortunately we learn that some kinds of brilliance are considered more valuable than others.

This is not true and it’s damaging.

The hierarchy that values some intelligence over others can dim a kid’s light or turn it off completely.

Everybody deserves a chance to shine bright just as they are.

So what can we do?

We can believe that all kinds of minds deserve to be honored.

We can see our children clearly, both the gifts and the challenges.

We can see what our children can do.

We can see what our children naturally do.

We can see what lights our children up.

We can see their brilliance because everyone wants to be seen for their unique brilliance.

Here is how we can do that:

Intentionally look for their brilliance.

However it appears, notice it.

Point it out.

Say it out loud to them (could be something as simple as “That’s brilliant!”).

Get excited about it… even if they roll their eyes.

Find ways to nurture it.

It sounds simple but sometimes the most brilliant things are the simplest.

Want to give it a go?

See if you can find 3 moments this week when you notice your child shine. Point them out, say them out loud, get excited about them and think about ways to nurture them. See what happens and let me know. Keep looking for their brilliance.

*Note: Brilliance can mean a lot of different things to different people. Here’s how I’m currently defining it: Brilliance is where someone shines. When you train your eye for it, it’s hard to not see it. It can look like something coming so naturally to someone. It can also look like someone being completely lit up or it can be a way of seeing or doing something that you would have never thought of yourself.

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Nicole Connell

Educational Therapist + Personal Learning Fairy Godmother for kids and teens who learn best outside the box. www.nicoleconnell.com.