As we’ve all noticed, all of us have different personalities. It sure makes life interesting, doesn’t it? And it makes relationships – umm – challenging at times.
In the same way, we all have different learning styles. Which makes it difficult to teach our children until we figure out what their learning style is.
Below is a chart that shows some of the different learning styles and how each style learns best.
As teachers and homeschool moms we need to identify our child’s learning style and find materials that are geared toward that learning style.
If you see that your child retains information better after listening to something, then he is probably an auditory learner.
If you find that your child prefers to read about a topic and then remembers what he read, then he may be a visual or verbal learner.
You must observe the child and try different methods and see what works best for him.
Then once you have identified his learning style, you need to provide materials that are geared to that learning style.
If your child learns best by listening, then you should use audio books, read aloud to your child, and include videos in your curriculum.
If your child learns well by reading and seeing pictures, then the curriculum you provide could be comprised of workbooks, library books, lots of books to read – basically a lot of reading to obtain information.
If your child needs to move around in order to really learn, then you need to put aside the traditional classroom model of a child sitting at a desk to learn and instead let your child move while listening or memorizing or telling what he knows, so that he can enjoy the learning process and get it down deep. He is most likely a kinesthetic learner. He may need to do things with his hands, actually touch and do activities instead of just reading about it, listening to someone talk about it, or even watch a video about it. If you try to make this kind of child hold still, he will be frustrated and will have a harder time learning the information. Don’t fight against your child’s learning style – work with it!
When you find that your child is strong in a different learning style from your own, you need to adjust the way you think of “school” and find the kind of materials that match your child’s learning style.
One thing you must guard against is setting up an adversarial situation with your child. Try to make learning a win-win situation. When the child learns the skill or information, everybody’s happy. Focus on the things that are done correctly, not the things that are done incorrectly. Try to use positive reinforcement as much as possible.
Another thing you must be careful about is giving your child too much work to do. As homeschoolers, our children don’t need to do busy work. Once they have mastered the skill or learned the information, they can move onto something else or take a break or whatever. They are not limited by other students’ progress or time needed to complete a task.
Many of my children are self-directed. I get their materials right at their level or even a little below so that they can do most things on their own without much help from me. Then I can concentrate on the younger ones who need lots of one-on-one attention from me.
I find that narration works well for most of my children. I ask them what they just read or what they know about something, or I ask a few questions, and they can usually tell me a lot, and they get enthusiastic about sharing what they know. No matter what their learning style, they usually like to talk! And telling about what they’ve learned makes the knowledge their own. They process the information more completely when they have to think about it enough to actually put it in their own words and express it to someone else. Then the information is saved at a deeper level in their memory.
Make sure that the stories you read to them or the information that you have your child learn is interesting and exciting to them so that they automatically narrate and share with others around them and have an incentive to mull over and talk about it with others so that the learning is very thorough and causes them to apply it and add on to it throughout their lives.
Pay attention to what their interests are at the moment. Their learning style may actually change from one season to another. They may really like to read fiction at one time, and then they may go through a phase where they prefer non-fiction. They may even have different learning styles for one type of learning task than another. One of my sons is not really a kinesthetic learner, but when he was trying to memorize math facts, he had to walk around the table the whole time he was reciting them. He could not sit still and do it. He was very frustrated and upset until we discovered that he needed to get up and move in order to memorize them. He has also discovered that he is about equally as strong at auditory and visual learning. As they get older, your children will probably start to figure out what works best for them. But when they are younger, you need to observe them and watch for signs to figure it out for them.
As teachers, we should try to make learning as pleasant, enjoyable, and effective as possible for each child. We can individualize the curriculum for each child since we are in more of a tutoring situation than a classroom situation.
In all of your homeschooling efforts, remember that the goals and expectations you have for your child should be realistic for your child. Not all children develop at the same rate. If they’re not ready for a certain skill or to understand a certain concept, then you should not push them. If you do push, then they will develop a negative association and will resist learning. What we want to engender in our children is a love for learning. When you do this during their early years, it will become a lifelong attitude.
And they will be constantly learning and becoming the person that God meant for them to be and able to accomplish the things that He put them here to do.