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Helping Children Find Their Strengths

24 Oct

Course excerpt from Motivating Children to Learn

The primary aim of this course is to illustrate strategies and activities that can help motivate children to learn by removing obstacles that are in their way. A good starting point in this process is to teach them that there are many ways to be “smart.” One way to help children learn and understand their strengths is to understand the concept of multiple intelligences. There are nine different categories of intelligence. These intelligences can assist clinicians, parents, and teachers with identifying the best way for students to learn.

Child Learning

Below is a list of the different intelligence areas and the child’s preferred method of learning.

  • Visual/Spatial: Prefers using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Verbal/Linguistic: Prefers using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Logical/Mathematical: Prefers using logic, reasoning, and systems.
  • Interpersonal: Prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Intrapersonal: Prefers to work alone and use self-study.
  • Aural/Musical/Rhythmic: Prefers using sound and music.
  • Naturalist: Prefers working outdoors with animals and plants.
  • Existential: Prefers dealing with abstract theories.
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic: Prefers using your body, hands, and sense of touch.

Hunt (2015) explains it this way: How does this knowledge help children learn? For example, a student who is a naturalist in Multiple Intelligences might classify insects while working in the plant area. We have them at the level of analyzing and in an area that they feel comfortable in—the plant area. A student in a kindergarten classroom who is mathematical might be comparing five items from the kitchen area. For a middle school or high school linguistic student, we might be writing two paragraphs contrasting poets from the 19th century. For a musical student, we might have them outline a chapter on banking while listening to music. Maybe this would be distracting to some students so you might have students use earbuds, so those who like to listen to music wouldn’t disturb the ones who do not like to listen to music. If you are a visual learner, we might have you show comparisons using a Venn diagram. An interpersonal learner could classify rocks with a partner, while an intrapersonal learner might compare two features from their project individually. An elementary level example for a kinesthetic learner might be to stand at the back counter while separating fruit and vegetable pictures.

A child needs to understand that his or her identity is not defined by their learning disability. In order to do so, children require help to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It is even more critical for a child who struggles in school to verbalize and recognize what they are good at. Most children with learning disabilities are told what their deficits are, and what areas they need to work on; however, few are told what their strengths are.

As parents and clinicians, we need to seek and cultivate our children’s innate gifts and strengths. This may require some detective work toward an appreciation of each child not just for what is acceptable and culturally valued in our society, but for their actual abilities. We need to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What does my child/student/client enjoy doing?
  • What comes to him/her naturally?

When people align with their strengths they feel as if they come alive.

Examples of strengths include:

  • Works well/gets along well in groups
  • Is able to organize items and thoughts
  • Shows empathy and sensitivity to others
  • Accepts personal responsibility for actions (good and bad)
  • Participates in discussions at home, school and with friends
  • Uses inflection and expression when speaking
  • Figures out new words by looking at the context or by asking questions
  • Makes connections between reading material and personal experiences
  • Observes and understands patterns in nature and in numbers
  • Thinks logically

Knowing about strengths and weaknesses is helpful to children, but it has to be taken a few steps further in order to be useful to them. How can we help children use their personal strengths to build self-confidence and a positive attitude? Part of this depends on the child’s age. Young children love to tell you about themselves and are open to telling you what they like to learn. In contrast, older children and teens may have a hard time opening up. We need to point out their strengths:

  • “I noticed you love basketball, you seem so comfortable holding and dribbling the ball.”
  • “I noticed that you love to figure out math problems in your head.”

However, according to Anjum et al. (2013), Some children and adolescents, especially those with behavioral concerns may be reluctant to explore or believe their strengths because they have been conditioned to associate negatives about themselves. In such cases, the professional may first work on building the self-efficacy of children and adolescents by using evidence-based strategies such as cognitive-behavioral programs that can help them to believe that they have the ability to change. Once they focus and spend more time on what they are capable off, they will automatically spend less time in thinking about their shortcomings.

To learn more about multiple intelligences, building on children’s strengths and practical techniques to support children in becoming more resilient learners, check out our new online CE course:

Motivating Children to Learn is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides strategies and activities to help children overcome their academic and social challenges. This course describes the various challenges that can sidetrack children in their developmental and educational processes, leaving them with a sense of discouragement and helplessness. Such challenges include learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, behavior disorders, and executive functioning deficits. Left unchecked, these difficulties can cause children to develop the idea that they are not capable of success in school, precipitating a downward spiral of poor self-esteem and – eventually – school failure. The good news is that much better outcomes can result when parents, teachers, and therapists engage children in strategies and activities that help them overcome their discouragement and develop their innate intelligence and strengths, resulting in a growth mindset and a love of learning. Detailed in this course are multiple strategies and techniques that can lead to these positive outcomes. Course #40-44 | 2018 | 77 pages | 25 posttest questions

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Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

 

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