Focusing on strengths is just as important as recognizing weaknesses. Encouraging your child to explore strengths and passions (and take healthy risks) can be a real self-esteem booster. Here are some activities to try.
Hiking, Biking and Climbing
Is your child curious and full of energy? Biking, hiking and climbing allow your child to be athletic without the pressure of being part of a team. If your child prefers being alone, likes to learn by exploring the world and is frequently on the move, the great outdoors might be ideal.
Does your child love to sing and make music? Music uses many different parts of the brain at once to process rhythm, emotion and movement. All of the elements of music—including tempo, pitch and beat—are key pieces of learning to read, too. And there are many kinds of music to explore. Some may offer your child a chance to be part of a group (such as band). Others, such as drumming, help build like movement control.
If your child struggles with movement and coordination, learn about different musical instruments and the motor skills they require.
Does your child know a lot of information and enjoy sharing it with other people? Debate might be worth a shot. Debate club could help your child build friendships with people who have common interests. It can also help your child develop clearer communication skills and ways to organize thoughts.
Some kids enjoy storytelling and love being the center of attention. Drama club can be a good outlet for creative kids. It provides a way for them to learn how plot, characters and setting work together to make a story powerful. For kids who aren’t comfortable in the limelight, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes roles, like set design or costumes. All of these jobs can be a way to be part of a team.
Does your child like to draw, paint or sculpt? Art classes can be a good way to let kids explore the beauty they see in the world. Drawing and painting can also build motor skills as well as teach shapes, spatial relationships, size and other mathematical concepts.
Does your child like to build and explore the relationship between cause and effect? LEGO robotics is a great activity for logical thinkers. Kids learn how to come up with a plan. Then they must organize and carry out the plan. Not only do they learn to follow directions in a sequence, they must practice flexible thinking as they adjust plans that don’t work. Best of all, they get to build and play with robots!
Learn how LEGO can help kids build motor skills, too.
Does your child have a lot of energy and good visual-spatial skills? Tennis helps kids practice hand-eye coordination and movement planning. Tennis is primarily a one-on-one sport. That makes it good for kids who aren’t as comfortable in large social groups, but who need to work on social skills. Your child will learn to follow rules, develop good sportsmanship, set personal goals and be accountable for making progress.
Does your child love animals? Horseback riding is not only fun, but it can be therapeutic. It can help kids who have a tough time keeping their emotions in check build patience and impulse control. Riding also improves muscle tone, posture, gait and coordination.
Download a free activity to help identify your child’s strengths. And explore tips for talking to your child about strengths and weaknesses.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Mark J. Griffin, PhD was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.