Thursday, September 15, 2011

What is your child's learning style?

Q. I want to make sure I help my child succeed in school this year. Do you have any advice as to how I can best help him?

A. As the new school year starts up, this is on the mind of all parents. We want to see our kids succeed in school and find learning to be fun. Learning is the basis of all future knowledge. But for some kids, learning can be a real struggle. And, for some parents, helping your child to learn can be a real headache or battle.

One of the best things you can do for your child is to determine his or her learning style. Wikipedia defines learning as "the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice or study or by being taught." Each of us learns in one of three main ways: Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic/Manipulative. Most school-age children will be visual learners, but almost all will learn something from all three learning styles.

Click here to take an online quiz to determine your son's learning style.

So what is your child's learning style? Read through this list and see into which category your child falls. Also read through the list of the things he can do to best help him learn.
  • Visual learners process information by reading, looking at graphics, or watching a demonstration. They may grow very impatient with listening to an oral explanation. They can do very well with studying a chart or graph though.
Help him learn:
    • Use flashcards
    • Draw out illustrations
    • Use a color coding system
    • Take notes and review with him later
  • Auditory learners prefer to listen to explanations over reading them. They may like to study by reciting out loud.
Help him learn:
    • Talk it out with a partner
    • Teach it to someone else
    • Listen to books on tape
    • Set the information to a song
    • Kinesthetic or manipulative learners learn better by touching objects or taking a hands-on approach. They will have trouble sitting still to study. They may also need to write the information down or do a hands-on activity to really grasp the subject.
    Help him learn:
      • Write the information over and over
      • Highlight or underline in a text
      • Have them move around while they are looking at information
      • Encourage frequent breaks

      It is important to note that learning styles can actually change over time for your child. As they grow they learn new ways to grasp information and their styles evolve. It is also important to practice other ways of learning with your child. Those who can learn in different ways can process and absorb more information than those who are reliant on only one way of learning.

      Do you want to help your child branch out of his learning style? Try this example:

      • When helping your son with math homework, first have him complete a worksheet or do practice problems (visual learning). Then you can have your son do the problems out loud with you by reciting times tables or addition problems (auditory learning). Finally you can play a game with your son where he actually uses objects or snacks to show how the math is done (kinesthetic/manipulative).

      By tailoring homework and other activities to your son's learning style, you will help him succeed this year. Good luck and we wish your son the best.

      - Some information take from:

      If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.
      *This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.

      Thursday, September 8, 2011

      Helping Children Deal with Job Loss

      Q. I lost my job a few weeks ago. We have two children still in the home. I was surprised by how much it affected them. How can we help our children deal with my job loss?

      A. With these tough economic times, it has become all to normal for us to hear this question. You, like many families, are facing a very hard road ahead. Losing your job is not just a loss of income, but a loss of security and identity. The grief that comes with a job loss affects kids too, not just adults.

      For children, they see the strain and stress that the job loss creates in their parents. Often, parents are more angry, easily upset, or even depressed. The amount of anxiety that creeps into the home greatly affects the way children feel or function in their every day lives. Once anything this large affects the family system, there will be a trickle down affect to all those in the household.

      The first thing we would suggest is to be honest with your kids. You do not want them to hear about the job loss from someone else. This only creates more panic and anxiety. Be age-appropriate in the information you give them. Listed below are a few age-graded suggestions:

      • For Children Under 5: Be simple and concrete. Children at this age are most concerned about their personal safety and need assurance that they will be cared for. They need to know that the job loss was not their fault and they have done nothing wrong.
      • For Children 6-9: They are concerned with right and wrong and may have trouble understanding that job loss may be unfair. Provide information as they ask for it.
      • For Children 10-12: They can put facts together in more complicated ways and can understand the everyday effects of job loss. They can contribute ideas to budget planning.
      • For Teenagers: They are capable of understanding the consequences of the job loss and can discuss issues in more detail. They understand the more subtle effects as well. They can be helpful in problem solving. Fears that they won't be able to go to college are common at this age. Discussion is important.**
      Also, make sure to assure your children that while some financial things might change, their needs will always be provided for. Help them understand that money management is key and that you guys have to find more creative, cheaper ways to have fun as a family. Talk about playing board games, going to the park and other fun free activities you will engage in together. It is important for children to know that fun does not have to equal money.

      And finally, as much as possible, keep the household routine the same. The less changes the children see in their everyday lives, the better they will fare. Maintain the same behavioral boundaries. Don't be tempted to loosen the rules just because you feel sorry for your children. Children thrive on consistency and knowing what to expect; this includes knowing where the boundaries are and knowing you will keep them inside those boundaries.

      If you or your child are showing high levels of stress, seek professional help or enlist the help of the child's school counselor. If either of you begin to loose too much sleep, start eating more or less than normal, having more headaches or stomachaches than normal, or having more emotional outbursts, you may benefit from some professional help. Be alert to the changes in your child and yourself.

      **Information cited from "Job Loss Affects Children"
      If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

      *This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.