Make Your Child Brilliant - Thursday January 24

make your child brilliant (3/6)

Education guru Bernadette Tynan continues her mission to apply her unique brand of brain training to gifted children. Tonight, she visits a school in Liverpool in search of seemingly ordinary children whose abilities are being ignored. After selecting a shortlist of five talented kids, Bernadette decides to work with Sophie, a girl with strong leadership skills who sometimes lacks confidence.

Bernadette Tynan has spent more than 15 years researching the secrets of the mind and developing brain-training techniques to unlock children’s talents. She is convinced that the current “exam-crazed” education system in the UK is failing to spot the ability of many of the country’s brightest kids. In this series she sets out on a journey across the country to put her methods to use.

This week, Bernadette is at a school in Liverpool to assess the potential of a group of eight to 11year-olds. “In my book, there is no average Joe, there’s only hidden talent,” she says confidently. “Once I’ve spotted it, I can start developing it.” Bernadette’s first task is to get the children to guess the weight of three of their teachers using a pile of fruit, some scales and a wheelbarrow.

Bernadette then observes the children in class and talks to their teachers, before choosing five kids who she thinks demonstrate sparks of brilliance. They include Darrion, a quiet bookworm; chatterbox Harris; and high-level thinker James. There is also Sophie, who shows clear leadership skills, and Niloo, an academic allrounder who struggles at sport.

Bernadette takes the five children to an activity centre in the Lake District where she presents them with a series of challenges designed to test their creativity, code-breaking skills and teamwork. By the end of the trip she has decided on the two children she wants to observe further: Sophie and Niloo.

To get an idea of the parental support the two children enjoy, Bernadette sets both families the challenge of putting up a tent on the beach. Niloo and her parents enter into the activity enthusiastically, while Sophie’s parents express their dismay at the task. Their lack of confidence soon affects Sophie. “There is a message here being passed from parent to child: ‘this is complicated’,” Bernadette says. “That’s not a good thing to do, because children don’t know something’s complicated until somebody tells them that it is.”

Bernadette decides that Sophie could benefit the most from her training, so she sets her the ambitious task of writing, directing and staging a play in a real theatre. She believes the challenge will show off Sophie’s talents whilst giving her the opportunity to build her confidence and improve her mathematical skills. But Sophie’s parents have concerns about the size of the job. “It seems too big a task for a girl of nine,” her dad says.

Bernadette puts her techniques to use by teaching Sophie to visualise the final performance in her mind. “If they programme their mind to actually see themselves achieving the goal, they will achieve the goal,” she explains. She encourages Sophie to do physical exercise to sharpen her focus before writing her script, and helps her find ways to solve maths puzzles.

Bernadette also senses that mum Sarah is projecting her own fears and negativity onto Sophie, with adverse effects. She forces Sarah to reassess what is achievable by sending her up in a small plane and letting her take over the controls mid-flight. Sarah’s aerial adventure gives her and her daughter a renewed sense of confidence. However, when Sophie runs into further problems with her play, Bernadette is left wondering whether she has overestimated the abilities of this little girl. Will it be alright on the night?

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