Understanding Our Children’s Preferred Learning Styles for Academic Success

Understanding Our Children’s Preferred Learning Styles for Academic Success

When I tutor students in the Goggle classroom, I listen and watch them carefully as they describe how they prefer to learn when reading and writing. For example, one student may describe how she gains lots of information about a story by looking at the pictures in the story first. Another student may want to write down his answer about what he just read before summarizing the story in two sentences. A third student may prefer drawing pictures or acting out the story before discussing or writing a story.

Most teachers consider students’ various learning styles when working with individual students. Below are five primary learning styles described in Data Driven Differentiation in the Standards-Based Classroom by Gayle H. Gregory and Lin Kuzmich:

  1. Linguistic learners like to write, play word games, learn vocabulary, debate, and create jokes.
  2. Musical learners love to sing, create tunes and rhymes, and make a song as part of a solution.
  3. Logical/mathematical learners problem solve through abstract reasoning with numbers, formulas, patterns, puzzles, and data.
  4. Visual/spatial learners draw pictures, solutions, and models with color and media.
  5. Body/kinesthetic learners use gestures, actions, and act out to demonstrate learning.

Help for Students and Parents

When students and their teacher understand how they like to learn, they can work together to determine how the students can best show what they have learned during a given assignment. During parent-teacher conferences, the teacher can help parents reinforce their children’s learning at home by discussing a student’s preferred learning style.

Reinforcing Learning at Home

As we reinforce our children’s preferred learning styles at home, we validate each child as a successful learner. We can then help each child expand his or her ability to learn first by using a preferred learning style to demonstrate learning. Then we can encourage our child to use other learning styles for problem solving. Many teachers also encourage students to show their work when using several different learning styles. For example, teachers may have students demonstrate their writing skills by illustrating their stories (visual leaners), writing their stories (linguistic learners), peer editing stories (logical and linguistic learners) and then discussing the stories with the class (linguistic learners).

Much success as you reinforce your children’s learning styles at home and encourage them to expand their use of other learning styles to strengthen their learning abilities.

Mary Ann



Inclusion Collaborative Warmline

Inclusion Collaborative Warmline

Established in 2006, the Inclusion Collaborative Warmline is a free resource that provides both phone and email support for families, teachers, and community agencies.  Services are provided in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Mandarin. The services are managed by the Inclusion Collaborative, a department at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. This excellent resource is staffed by former teachers and parents of children with disabilities. The Warmline personnel understand both sides of parenting and education issues.

Inclusion Collaborative Warmline services include:

  • E-Packets of information with internet links on topics, such as specific disabilities, behavior, friendship, adaptations, language, social stories, ability awareness, community inclusion, camps, and more.
  • Many visual supports, such as sensory break cards, feelings charts, visual schedules, and visual solutions for social conflict and over 300 social stories are available.  Social stories can be individually designed and customized for the child and/or the situation.
  • Social media, including the Inclusion Collaborative Pinterest page, the Inclusion Collaborative Facebook page, and the Inclusion Collaborative YouTube channel with additional resources at inclusioncollaborative.org.
  • Examples of Warmline supports are at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PtYIaLEL0U&list=PL4Ffky1G0tHLKfzZxcERBn4NCs6OWV2xf&index=4.

Much success as you support your children’s social development knowledge and skills when using these valuable resources.

Happy new year!

Mary Ann with Kathy Wahl, Director III of the Inclusion Collaborative

Copyright © 2021 by GenParenting


Responding to Your Kids’ Challenging Behaviors at Home

Responding to Your Kids’ Challenging Behaviors at Home

Our children’s misbehaviors can be addressed through preventive strategies, modifying the environment, and by teaching them alternative behaviors. When trying to resolve a child’s challenging behavior, parents can try the following approach:

  1. Identify the problem and agree on what behavior is going to be addressed.
  2. Brainstorm solutions to understand what function the behavior is serving.
  3. Make a plan involving an acceptable solution that allows the child to achieve the function being served by the challenging behavior. That is, if the function is also acceptable.
  4. Implement the plan consistently and across settings.
  5. Evaluate the outcome to determine next steps.
  6. Develop alternative solutions for various family members or situations.

During the brainstorming session, you can:

  1. Describe what the behavior looks like or sounds like (i.e. frequency, duration, intensity).
  2. Determine when does the behavior occur and what happens right before the behavior. (What sets off the behavior?)
  3. What happens right after the behavior? (What is the child achieving from the behavior?)
  4. Is there a function for the behavior or is the child trying to communicate something, avoid something, get attention, or express anger and frustration?
  5. Work toward developing acceptable alternatives that achieve the function.

Remember, any challenging behavior that persists over time is “working” and rewarding to your child. Relish the serenity you have achieved with quality family play!


Copyright © 2020 by GenParenting

The Perils of Alcohol Use in Pregnancy

The Perils of Alcohol Use During Pregnancy

What could be wrong with having a soothing glass of wine every once in awhile during pregnancy?  Well, unfortunately, a miserable future for the unborn child can be the result of a seemingly innocent habit.  This habit could result in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

As the developing brain is very susceptible to alcohol throughout pregnancy, damage can be done even before a woman realizes she is pregnant.  Damage is usually not obvious at birth and can span the spectrum: from full characteristic facial features and small stature, cognitive disabilities, and central nervous system effects to no facial features at all, normal intelligence and physical development.  However, children on the spectrum who have no obvious characteristics, may have behavioral difficulties that have an impact on learning.

Alcohol Impact

The brain damage caused by the alcohol exposure may lead to the following:

  • Executive function disorder resulting in poor decision making and impulsivity
  • Inability to think ahead and understand the consequences of their actions
  • Memory may be impaired. What is mastered one day is gone the next

Is There a Qualified Diagnosis?

Difficulties often do not receive sufficient attention until middle or high school and that is because they do not show the classical facial characteristics or do not demonstrate a developmental delay on standardized tests.  Even then, in most states, they do not qualify for special intervention.  Getting a qualifying diagnosis is nearly impossible and parents are very frustrated.  Mothers may not remember those soothing glasses of wine or the child may be in foster care or adopted so history is unknown.  Unfortunately, many end up becoming involved with the juvenile justice system.

Strategies to Support Children

Parents and teachers should find the following strategies to be helpful:

  1. Be aware of the kinds of situations that trigger inappropriate behaviors:
    • Inconsistent, unstructured environments
    • New situations
    • Overstimulation
    • Internal changes, such as illness or extreme fatigue
  1. Seek to understand what triggers inappropriate behavior as well as what consequences maintain the behavior.
  2. Increase predictability and consistency in daily routines. Prepare children for what comes next.
  3. Be very concrete with directions. Instead of “clean up”, say “take your dishes to the sink, rinse and stack them”
  4. Avoid making demands that are beyond the developmental level of the child. This can bring on a tantrum of frustration.
  5. Provide extra support during new or difficult tasks, teach in small steps.
  6. Reduce unnecessary stimulation, especially background noise.
  7. Respect children’s space by keeping unnecessary interruptions at a minimum.
  8. Limit the number of rules; communicate them clearly and enforce them consistently.
  9. Expect setbacks and regressions. They are inconsistent in their ability to perform skills they have previously been taught. Also, be aware that home events, particularly family or neighborhood violence, caregiver changes, and dependency court dates, can have a major impact on children’s behavior and learning.
  10. Be vigilant! Safety is an issue when children have poor impulse control and trouble understanding cause and effect. Repeat and reteach safety precautions continuously.

Helping Our Children Master Their Environment

Use of these strategies, over time, strengthens children’s self-control and sense of mastery over the environment.  There is no cure for FASD, but those affected can be helped to stay, safe, resist exploitation, and act appropriately.  The early the intervention, the better the outcome.

Ruth Cook

Copyright (c) 2020 by GenParenting



IDEA Grandparents, Parents and Teachers Working Together

IEP (Individualized Education Program) and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Parent Teacher Collaboration

Some of our newly confirmed leaders are unfamiliar with IDEA, the key federal law involving students with disabilities IDEA. Given the current political reality, if you are the parent or grandparent of a special education student, it is critical that you learn how best to advocate for your child.

What is IDEA and how does it affect special education students?

IDEA (individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was passed as a follow up to earlier legislation mandating education of handicapped students. There are several important aspects to this law that spells out guidelines for delivering and protecting “Free Appropriate Pubic Education for all children.” The public school develops a plan for this education through an IEP (Individualized Education Program).

For an overview please review: https://law.duke.edu/childedlaw/docs/Special_Education_Law.pdf

Parent and Teacher Participation

It is best when the family and teachers work together to develop a child’s IEP, including his or her goals for progress, the educational setting, and follow up communication.

How can grandparents provide support in this process? To learn about your grandchildren’s school experience, you can:

-Ask your grandchildren about school

-Help them with homework or read to them

-Volunteer in your grandchild’s classroom regularly or occasionally chaperone a field trip

-Develop a positive relationship with your grandchild’s teacher

Personal Experience:


In my second year as a Resource Teacher at a local high school, I had a student with learning disabilities in my classroom. He was well liked, quiet but disorganized. For this young sophomore, his biggest challenge was attendance. He liked to go to the “path” and smoke cigarettes during recess. This often meant that he skipped class after recess. I knew very little about his home life.  I came to find out that he was being raised by his grandmother, who had full custody while his mother was addressing her own substance abuse problems. His grandmother was readily available and interested in his needs. Together we developed a reenforcement system to address his attendance goal that he not be late to class after recess. This was a joint effort. I would go to the path to look for him at recess and report back to his grandmother daily. A report of good attendance meant that his grandmother gave him more freedom on the weekends. Over time, working together with daily communication, his attendance improved.


Prior to the holiday break, I spontaneously decided to visit my grandchildren’s preschool and share about our family’s holiday tradition. It meant dropping everything I was doing, jumping in the car, fighting traffic and arriving a little late. Despite this stressful entrance, my grandchildren were both surprised and very pleased to share their school experience with me. My four year old granddaughter exuberantly introduced me to her teachers, her classmates, and gave me a tour of her school. I sat with both grandchildren during circle time and was able to observe what a great fit this setting has been for them. Without this visit, I would not have known this part of their world. She was happy I was there, and I was happy to learn about her world. It was a win-win situation.

With my heartfelt wishes for Parent and Grandparent-Teacher Advocacy through IDEA,


Copyright (c) 2016 by GenParenting