Strengths vs Learning Intervention – Which Do We Focus On?

The debate goes on.  How do parents and educators best help our struggling learners?

Do we focus more on children’s strengths, highlighting all of the good?

Or do we focus on their weaknesses, then make every effort to help students develop better learning skills?


boy in black hat, bow tie, white shirt, holding up magnifying glass and smiling

Before we dive any deeper, let’s clarify a few things about acceptance.

Let’s say that we don’t like something about ourselves, for instance, difficulty learning.

For some folks, acceptance means believing that the difficulties will live on forever, will likely never get better, and that’s okay.

On the surface that type of acceptance appears to be life-affirming.  I can focus on what I’m good at and not worry about the rest.

However, that type of acceptance could also masquerade as a clever way of avoiding growth.  I accept it, therefore, what’s the point in doing anything about it?

Another form of acceptance looks like this.  I accept that I have difficulty learning, and that’s okay.  Since I don’t particularly like the constant struggle, I’m going to take steps to make it better.

Bottom line?  Choosing a strengths-based approach does NOT mean that we give up on efforts to improve and grow.

It’s not EITHER focus on the strengths OR focus on the weaknesses via learning intervention.  It’s AND.  It’s both.

In fact, Psychologist Dr. Stephen Barry Kaufman believes in a 4:2 ratio.  Provide twice as many strength-based approaches to every intervention approach.

This ratio has no real scientific basis but it does make sense.

Kids are pretty much hardwired to feel broken when they believe something is wrong with them.  Parents may secretly believe that’s true, too.

Strength-spotting is a skill that we can all develop, which in turn helps the children we love become better at noticing (and celebrating) their own strengths.

AT THE SAME TIME we can help struggling learners improve learning abilities.  Better learning abilities then lead to more strengths.  More strengths lead to even more strength-spotting!

Want details on how to help learners celebrate their strengths AND significantly improve their learning abilities?  Please visit Remove the Limits to Learning.