As the new school year quickly approaches many parents feel a knot in their stomach as they begin to worry about the challenges their kids will face. While many successful people were top students, there are famous intelligent, creative folks who struggled with the demands of school. They became some of the most gifted and talented people the world has known:


  • Thomas Edison, brilliant scientist and inventor, was thrown out of school at age 12 because he was terrible at math and unable to focus. His teacher said, ‘he was too stupid to learn anything.’
  • Pablo Picasso, whose paintings sell for millions of dollars, had a very difficult time in school and was labeled dyslexic.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci, internationally renowned inventor, scientist, engineer, painter and sculptor, had ADD.
  • Robert Frost, poet laureate, was expelled from school for chronic daydreaming.
  • Winston Churchill, England’s famous prime minister, had to repeat a grade in elementary school.
  • Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 and could not read until he was 7 years old. One of his teachers described him as ‘mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in foolish dreams.’
  • Steve Jobs did not care about school until his fourth grade teacher bribed him to do his work. She used candy and money as a reward. He was bullied as a kid.
  • Steven Spielberg dropped out of high school in his sophomore year. He was convinced to return, but was put in a “special ed” class.
  • …And for anyone who has enjoyed the wonder of a day at Disneyland, this one is particularly interesting: A newspaper editor fired a young man, named Walt Disney, because ‘he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.’


I often wonder what it was like to be their parent. Did they worry about their kids? Probably! What can you learn from this? Even some of the most genius folks in the history of the world struggled in school. So…as you feel that knot in your stomach, remind yourself that even though you want your children to meet their responsibilities and often fall short, it does not mean that they will miss the mark. Remember to shine a light on their unique gifts and talents as you take a deep breath and envision them growing into happy, successful adults.


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