Parents | Raising readers & learners.

Home of Parent & Child Magazine

Capture Your Child's Super Strengths

Turn a talented reader into a math-lover (or vice versa) with these kid-friendly reframing strategies.
 

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Attention and Focus
Problem Solving
Critical Thinking

Very few people — no matter their age — are good at everything. Some have a knack for numbers, while others struggle with the simplest calculations. Some have a way with words (writers), understand people (psychologists, social workers, teachers), or see the world as a series of lines, colors, and spaces (artists, architects). As adults, we have the option to ignore our weaknesses (or circumvent them, by, say, hiring an accountant).

In school, however, kids don't get to pick and choose their subjects. There's no option to take two art classes and no math (or, for that matter, recess all day). But what they can do is make the most of their strengths, to use their strong skills to improve upon their weak areas. Here's how to help your child be the best student he can be:

If this sounds familiar . . .
My daughter loves to sing. She knows the lyrics to dozens of songs by heart, but when it comes to learning the times tables, she's a mess!
Try this strategy: Auditory learners — children who love to talk and sing, and can't wait for story time — will probably feel overwhelmed by visual cues, such as multiplication charts and tables. Don't despair: using music to teach multiplication is a fairly common and successful technique. There are a slew of multiplication songs available, from simple ditties to rap tracks. Find a CD your child likes, and play the songs often. Reinforce the music by quizzing your child verbally.
 

If this sounds familiar . . .
My son has always been a strong reader, but he struggles with math.
Try this strategy: The best way to get a good reader more interested in math is to make math seem more like reading. The solution? Word problems. You can find them in your child's textbook, but they're also incredibly easy to make up on your own. Look to whatever book your child is reading for inspiration — Harry Potter, for example: if each goal in Quidditch is worth 10 points, but catching the snitch is worth 150, how many goals is the equivalent of catching the snitch?
 

If this sounds familiar . . .
My daughter is a whiz at jigsaw puzzles, but she just doesn't get fractions.
Try this strategy: Kids who have strong visual and spatial skills respond well to colors, images, and other visual cues. Try using M&Ms (or dried kidney beans, if you find the chocolates disappear too quickly), pizza pies, or other such props to teach mathematical principles such as addition and subtraction, the times tables, and fractions.
 

If this sounds familiar . . .
My son is great at math, but his vocabulary needs serious help!
Try this strategy: Get your mathematically inclined child interested in reading with word problems, word search puzzles, and other word games. For example, give your son a list of words (ideally culled from vocabulary lists he gets at school) and ask him to classify them into various categories. The logical part of your son's brain will love the very scientific act of classification, but he'll be expanding his vocabulary at the same time.
 

If this sounds familiar . . .
My son loves to make up stories, but he's just not interested in science class.
Try this strategy: Creative thinkers do well with "what if . . . " or "imagine that . . . " assignments. Thankfully, this strategy can be applied to almost all subjects. For a science project on recycling, you might suggest to your son, "Imagine that you are an aluminum can. What is your journey like from the time I throw you in the bin until you are something new?" Or, if your son is studying solids, liquids, and gases, ask, "What would you feel like if you were a gas? A liquid? A solid? How would you feel different from one phase to the next?" These questions will get his brain thinking about science topics, but in a manner that he's comfortable with. 

Find Just-Right Books

The Reading Toolkit