Monday, February 1, 2010

Use Your Kids' Talents to Kickstart Learning

A fifth grade friend of mine draws fabulous dragons and other medieval characters, but sometimes learning in school doesn’t rate at the top of his list. There are lots of tricks to help arty kids, athletic kids, all kinds of kids do better in school.

Use your child’s strengths, something your child is passionate about, to give a learning boost and make it fun!

Math Example: If your child loves to draw and is having trouble learning how to add and subtract fractions, ¾ + 5/12 for instance, get out two sheets of paper and a pair of scissors. Have your child draw the same object on each page – in Andrew’s case, it might be a knight or a dragon – and cut the paper in the fractions to be added. Once your child cuts one paper in fourths and the other paper in twelfths, it will become obvious why the denominators have to become the same.

Language Example: “Make words” to help an arty or physical kid that has a tough time with spelling words. Get a piece of paper and use a ruler or book to draw horizontal and vertical lines to make a grid, about an inch apart. For K-2, write a letter in each box to represent the letters your child will need to make each spelling word. Have your child help you choose which letters to put in the boxes. Kids in grades 3-5 can write their own letters in the boxes (Kids K-2 can do write them once they see you do it a couple times). This REALLY helps to solidify letter sounds and patterns. Have your child cut on the lines and set out the letters to look like paper Scrabble tiles. Your child can then “make” each word with the paper tiles, put the words in patterns, make shapes out of multiple squares, trace the outside shape of a word with a pencil, point out the letters and letter combinations the spelling words have in common that week … Get creative! There is no right or wrong. Keep the letters in a bag, and take them out to put some of the spelling words together each day. You’ll be amazed at how much this will improve reading and writing, too.

Quick Tip for best results with ANY activity: Make it a game to figure out how to use as many of the five senses as possible – see, touch, hear, smell, and taste – to complete homework assignments.

For instance: use food, such as a dry cereal like Cheerios, to help with a new math concept. You may be able to use all five senses, depending on the food you choose and the concept your child is working on.

Having trouble figuring out a game to play to help your child learn something?

Email me at and I’ll send one to you. J

Do you have an activity you’d like to share that helps your child learn?

Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!