Hands-on Learners

We discovered that our son who has a learning disability is a kinesthetic learner, meaning he processes information most efficiently through touch and motion. Since finding this out, we have identified many ideas to help teach him. As we studied about some of the different ways people learn best, we discovered that about 30 percent of the general population are full or partial kinesthetic learners, although most also learn well through audio or visual means.

Those children who learn best through movement may find it difficult to absorb gospel principles taught in traditional settings. Expecting these children to sit still may even result in disruptive class experiences. Happily, we found the following learning strategies helpful.

Role playing. Active children may find difficulty relating to some scripture stories just through listening. However, if they are asked to play the part of Alma or the angel or King Lamoni, they will long remember the details of the experience. Look around the house for costume ideas, and stage the role play in such a way that body language is used.

Rote learning. Instead of repeating words or scriptures for children to memorize, have them write down the words and phrases. However, for those who are very young, disabled, or very active, this might not be practical. We have found that having the child bounce or throw a ball while saying each book of the Bible or pedal the stationary bike while repeating the names of Book of Mormon prophets helps the child remember them. The energy expended somehow helps the brain retain the information.

Spelling. When kinesthetic learners need to retain important names or words, have them spell the words by tracing letters in sand, rice, or cornmeal on a tray, by using sign language, or by writing the letters in the air. They may even wish to shape the letters with modeling clay or with their bodies. We have also sealed about a half cup of ketchup or mustard in a plastic baggie and then had our child draw letters on the baggie.

We have found example to be the greatest teacher of all. Sometimes it is difficult to be patient with a child who learns differently, or perhaps we unintentionally burden them with inappropriate labels. To live consistently with gospel teachings, we need to remember these children need special help and that as parents we have been entrusted with providing that help.Heidi Ashworth, Clayton Valley Second Ward, Walnut Creek California Stake

Real-World Finances for Teens

As children approach adolescence, they are ready to assume greater financial responsibility and learn more about adult money management. We have found that there are three main areas where we need to work with our children: financing more expensive personal wants and needs, teaching them the real cost of automobile ownership, and learning what it costs to run a household.

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    Personal expenses. As teenagers become involved in more activities and begin to feel more desire to purchase clothing or other items, they need more money. We have found as a general rule that expenses that can’t be met through normal means of allowances or earnings can be financed using a matching-funds strategy. The teenager becomes responsible for paying 50 percent of the cost, and if that is achieved the parents make up the difference. More than once we have noted that a teen’s desire for a certain product or school trip is inversely related to the amount that he or she is expected to contribute.

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    Automobile expenses. While many teens dream of owning their own car one day, few understand how much of the family budget car expenses can consume. In one family, six months before teens obtain a driver’s license, they begin tracking automobile expenses. They add up the cost of loan payments, insurance, repairs, gasoline, oil changes, new tires, and registration, compute the average cost per mile to drive the car, and then report their findings in family home evening.

    Other ideas to help teenagers understand the costs of car ownership include asking them to pay a portion of the fees required for driver’s education classes, to create a budget that includes car expenses, and to share the cost of insuring and registering a car.

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    Household expenses. Most young adults are surprised how expensive it is to operate a household, even a small apartment. One way to help them become realistic about costs is to involve them in monthly budgeting and check-writing activities. While parents may wish to keep some financial matters confidential, other areas, such as paying utility bills and staying within a grocery budget, can be shared with teens. One family rotates bill paying each month by asking one of their teenagers to write out the checks and prepare them for a parent’s review and signature.

This activity enables teens to preview many of the financial responsibilities they will assume as adults.Jerry Mason, Vienna Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake

[illustrations] Illustrated by Joe Flores