Building strengths: Pick one skill for your child to work on at home

Spending more time with your child at home lets you see challenges you weren’t aware of. Discovering difficulties may not sound like good news, but it creates an opportunity. It gives you an idea of skills you can help your child build while you’re together. Working on a new skill can also be refreshing.

You don’t want to put any more pressure on your child and yourself, though. The key is to focus on one skill at a time and to do it in a way that’s not intense. Here are some examples of skills you can work on, and ways to do it.

Learning skills


Set a timer and make it a game. Pick different activities and see how long your child can focus on them. They can be serious, like a chore, or silly, like listening to you read recipes out loud.


Tell jokes and play word games. Pick a few topics your child is interested in and have frequent conversations about them. Include new words and ideas as you talk.

Addition and subtraction

Use pieces of cereal or dried beans to help your child “see” math problems. For example: Start with two beans, add four more, and then count out the six beans.


Have your child choose any topic and write something about it in a creative format. It could be an ad, a TV script, song lyrics, or a review. Younger kids can tell it to you to write down.

Life skills

Washing up, brushing teeth, and getting dressed

Break self-care tasks into very small steps. You can list the steps or draw them out and then hang the directions in the bathroom or bedroom.

Working with money

Empty a money jar and have your child guess how much money there is. Then have your child sort the coins by type in clusters that add up to a dollar. Ten dimes, 20 nickels, etc.

Getting ready for bed

Make a picture schedule with your child, showing all the steps involved in getting ready. Have your child create a bedtime checklist to keep track of doing each step.

Social and emotional skills

Not interrupting

Decide on a signal, like raising an index finger, to point out when your child interrupts. Use it when your child cuts people off or barges into conversation. Have your child use it with you, too.

Coping with challenges

Make a “How Am I Feeling?” visual chart to help your child identify emotions. Use it to help your child talk about feelings and ways to manage them.

Picking up on body language

Play body-language charades as a family. Take index cards and write a different emotion on each one. Have a player draw a card and act out the emotion, while the others guess what it is.

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