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One Size Does Not Fit All - Learning Strategies

Are you a parent of more than one child? If so, you have probably noticed each of your children responds and reacts differently to your questions and directions at home. One child might perform chores better by having a To Do list set before them each day, while another child responds best to verbal instructions. That’s because each child comes equipped with a specific learning style. Check out the three main learning styles to learn how you can help your children approach their homework most effectively.

Types of Learning Modes
Research has long determined that children fall into one of three distinct types of learning styles: by sight, sound, or through touch. If you are not sure what type of learning style best suits your child, begin by paying attention to how your child reacts through playing. Is he or she unusually active and constantly examining things with his/her hands? If so, this type of child learns best by using his body to explore and learn about his surroundings. Other children learn most effectively by visualizing concepts. They enjoy learning through pictures, reading written assignments, and seeing math problems written out on a board. Children who learn best by listening are comfortable with the traditional teaching approach of lecturing and giving instructions orally.

Use Your Child’s Learning Style to Help with Homework
So now that you have identified how your children learn best, you can begin to tailor their homework to suit their learning strengths. For a child who learns through physical touch, when helping him/her with math problems, try using small objects, such as raisins or coins, to help him/her count. When assisting with reading assignments, invite your child to act out parts of the novel or plot. When reading to your child, use your index finger to track the words as you read. This helps your child’s eyes to focus as you read.

If your child is a visual learner, use flash cards to study spelling words. When reading to your child, pause to look at the illustrations, and build his/her knowledge based on a brief discussion of each picture. For history, making a visual timeline of important dates, and posting them to the wall will help your child “see” history and how it unfolds.

For the child who learns by hearing, help your child with homework by reading the homework assignment sheet to him/her each day after school. To help her with language and spelling assignments, say each word, and repeat each one aloud. Ask your child to spell the word back to you.  For history or science, make up rhyming words to help your child memorize important dates and facts.
Once you recognize what your child’s learning style is, you can then begin to help broaden his/her comprehension and, ultimately, the grades on his/her report card.

Happy Birthdays on a Budget

Go for it, Mom and Dad! You can keep your sanity and plan a budget-friendly, kid-friendly, birthday party for your child right in your own home. Simply consider your guests, your available space, and your inventory. Here's how...

Keep Things in Perspective
As a birthday party approaches, it’s natural to worry whether you’ve made the day “special enough” for your child. There’s a temptation, then, to go out and buy more—more gifts, more decorations, more stuff. But think about what this teaches your children. Instead of showering them with material affection, find more meaningful ways to make them shine on their day. Make a book about their life. Decorate their door with streamers the night before their birthday, so it’s the first thing they see when they wake up in the morning. Make their favorite breakfast that day. You can be they’ll remember the warmth of those moments long after the memories of extra trinkets and toys have faded.

Food for Thought
Friends will understand if you can’t serve a full-blown dinner at a child’s birthday party. If your budget only allows for cake and ice cream, don’t hold the party at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., a time when guests have the right to assume something hearty will be served. Have the party at 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. instead, and call the event a “dessert party” on the invitations, so guests don’t show up with empty stomachs. Some families buy a set of reusable dinnerware that only gets used for parties. That helps make the event special without being wasteful. If ordering out is a must, call around for the best deals and use coupons. Pizza shops almost always run some sort of special, and don’t be afraid to ask if one is willing to beat their competitor’s price.

Do it Yourself
We sometimes forget how easy it would be to make party supplies ourselves. Professionally made cakes can be expensive, whereas making one yourself costs much less. Read up on basic skills for making and decorating cakes.

Reuse and Repurpose
When buying party supplies, ask yourself if they can be reused down the road. If you choose a timeless design, some decorations could last a lifetime. Wrapping paper alone can cost a small fortune, and it gets shredded in seconds in the hands of an excited birthday boy or girl. Instead, wrap gifts in newspaper, sew reusable fabric gift sacks or buy them, or save paper gift bags, and use them over and over again.

When buying party supplies, ask yourself if they can be reused down the road. If you choose a timeless design, some decorations could last a lifetime. Wrapping paper alone can cost a small fortune, and it gets shredded in seconds in the hands of an excited birthday boy or girl. Instead, wrap gifts in newspaper, sew or buy reusable fabric gift sacks, or save paper gift bags to use over and over again.

Here are some other money-saving moves:

  • Host the party at home or in a public park rather than at an event facility.
  • Keep the number of guests to a minimum.
  • Buy food in bulk, and cut fruits and vegetables yourself rather than buying pre-cut trays from the grocery store.
  • Send email invitations, or make your own paper invitations using craft supplies you already own.

A party at home can definitely save you money but will require your time and creativity. Working with your child to plan a fun and engaging birthday party is something you will both remember forever!