What if My Child is ‘Ordinary’?


Occasionally, I receive an email that goes something like this:


I’ve been reading your blog and enjoying your stories about your daughters. They are doing some amazing things. I can see that unschooling is working for you. But will it work for my family? You see, I have ordinary children. They’re not musical like yours. They don’t write. They don’t draw. In fact, they don’t seem to have any particular talents…

Usually, the parent I’m chatting to has children who are a lot younger than mine. I think there’s plenty of time for passions to appear, for amazing things to happen. Even with older children, passions and talents can suddenly emerge. Or our kids can suddenly have ideas about how they want to use a talent. We’ve had a fantastic music video adventure this year, but 12 months ago, I had no idea we’d be heading down this pathway. I thought my daughter Imogen wanted to concentrate on her writing after she finished her Professional Writing and Publishing degree. I didn’t know she wanted to use her love of music in a more public way and become an online musician.

So time might be an issue when we’re wondering whether our kids will ever do anything out of the ordinary.


But what if a child is given plenty of time and still doesn’t seem to be doing anything exciting? Has unschooling failed?

Oh no! Every child has talents, there’s no doubt about that. But some talents are of the quiet kind. This doesn’t mean they’re not important. In fact, they could be more important than the showy variety.

It’s all very well being able to sing well or take stunning photos or produce good videos or write exciting and interesting novels, but none of that has any value unless it’s done for the good of others.

What the world needs is more compassion, empathy, self-sacrifice, and love. And these can be found in abundance in all children.

I have a few children who are trying to make their mark on the world in a highly visible way. But I also have others who have quieter talents. Their small acts of love and kindness, their smiles and caring words, their hard work and self-giving will affect the world. They turn ordinary into extraordinary.


What if I my child is ordinary? He isn’t! Every child is extraordinary.

I spoke about this topic in podcast 78: Go Out There and Make a Difference! And yesterday, I made an animated video using a small snippet of the podcast audio and the Goanimate software. The video contains two things I think we should remember to say to our kids. It’s only about 1 1/2 minutes in length. I hope you’ll take a look!

PS: A subscription to Goanimate is expensive and you might not want to spend a lot of money for animating software. A cheaper option is Powtoon. There is a basic free account or, as a home educator, you could sign up for a 4EDU account which costs USD $4.99 per month.


Images: These are photos of our latest music video shoot. Imogen wouldn’t be able to do ‘amazing’ things if it wasn’t for the ‘ordinary’ help of her sisters. They sacrifice sleep so we can film the videos at sunrise. They work hard, and are even prepared to take turns holding the light diffuser until their arms ache so that she can follow her dream.

I’d love to hear about your children’s talents. Are they visible or extraordinarily ordinary?

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    • Lisa
    • November 29, 2016

    I love this “But I also have others who have quieter talents. Their small acts of love and kindness, their smiles and caring words, their hard work and self-giving will affect the world. They turn ordinary into extraordinary.” That’s so well put and so very important to remember. This reminds me of my Samara.

    1. Reply


      I often think of how changed the world would be if only we remembered to be kind. I know I would love Samara (and all your family) if I had the opportunity to meet you. Maybe one day!

  1. Reply

    Hi Sue,
    This is not related to your post. Sorry to bother you, but we would like to send you something by email for Advent; not strictly the Church’s Advent, but 1st December. I don’t know your email address and San is deep in a kntting knot, so please can you give it to me.
    Many thanks and God bless,

    1. Reply


      You are not bothering me at all. It was lovely to see your name on a comment. I feel I know you because of San’s blog, and we did meet briefly via Skype! I sent you an email. Thank you for thinking about me. Love to San and all your family. God bless!

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