Focusing on strengths is just as important as recognizing challenge areas. 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, walking, and climbing
Is your child curious and full of energy? Walking, 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, playing outside 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. Singing along to songs at home with your child is a great activity to explore music together.
And there are many kinds of other music activities to try out. Some may offer your child a chance to be part of a group (such as a band). Others, such as drumming, help build like movement control.
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 love to move and groove? Dance gives kids a social way to learn rhythm, coordination, motor skills, and following directions. Kids also practice visual-spatial skills, which can be helpful when it comes to reading and math.
Does your child like to build things, or play on computers? Coding can be a great activity to try. Kids can explore coding on their own on a computer or tablet. There are also many organizations that offer free in-person or online classes. When kids code, they use problem-solving skills and practice flexible thinking as they adjust plans that don’t work.
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, set personal goals, and be accountable for making progress.
There are free or low-cost ways to play tennis. Check out your local parks for courts and programs. Or try a local community center.
Download a free activity to help identify your child’s strengths. And explore tips for talking to your child about strengths and challenges.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Mark J. Griffin, PhD was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.