Archive for May, 2006
What Is Your Child's Learning Style?
One of the great things about home schooling is learning so much about your child and about yourself. Your child's learning style is one of those things that you may or may not have already noticed. Knowing your child's learning style will help you decide what he/she should learn and how to go about teaching it. Let's take a brief look at different learning styles.
Is your child a wiggle worm that has to be moving all the time? Does he like to build with his hands? This type of child (most younger children fall into this category, but so do a lot of older kids) needs hands on activities. Putting this child in front of a computer all day to do his work just isn't going to work. Neither is the typical workbook approach. This child will love Unit Studies or even the Charlotte Mason style of teaching.
Is your child a little socialite that loves to be with others? Does she like to be involved in all the goings on at home? Does she always want to ask friends over to play? Is she a talker? This child will not want to be stuck in front of computer or with a workbook all day either. This child will love to do co-op type classes for some of her work. Involve her the everyday activities of the home. Get her involved in helping others (either her own siblings, or others outside the home).
Is your child a perfectionist? Does he like everything everything in its proper place? Does he like to do things on a schedule? This child needs to know what you expect of him. He needs to know what he will be working on for the day. A list of subjects to finish that he can check off as he goes will give him a sense of accomplishment. Workbooks are helpful with this child, but any curriculum will work as long as he knows what is expected of him.
Does your child tend to be a loner? Does she prefer to work on her own? This child needs to be given her space. She should be allowed to do her work in a quiet place somewhat independently. She probably won't want to get involved in co-op classes although she needs to be encouraged to work with others to some extent. Getting involved in home school activities or some sort of volunteer work can help this child better relate to others. This child might do well with workbook/computer type curriculum. But to help her come out of her shell and get involved with others, you might consider mixing it with curricua/activities that will engage her in activities that involve others.
There is another way to think about your child's learning style. Is your child kinesthetic, auditory or visual? Your child will be at least one of these and may be any combination of the three.
A kinesthetic learner will want to handle things. Most wiggle worms are kinesthetic. My husband is kinesthetic. He really wants to get his hands on something before he feels he really knows it. He loves going to museums that are hands on. Curriculum that involve manipulatives (Cuisenaire rods, Winston Grammar, Reading Rods) are great for this child.
An auditory learner loves to talk. He needs to talk to fully understand what he has learned. The Charlotte Mason approach is great for this child. The narration she encourages is just what this child needs. This child may be more likely to play a musical instrument by ear than by reading the music. He will love to learn by listening to CDs. Manipulatives will probably seem more complicated than helpful. If your child is auditory, sometimes just explaining a problem to you will help him figure out the answer. I have a couple of auditory learners. They tend to take a lot of time because of all the talking.
A visual learner will learn best by seeing something. Put up a good poster on the wall and you might not even have to discuss the material on it. The visual learner will see something and understand it. A visual learner likes charts and graphs to help him understand information. Talking is a waste of time to a visual learner. So are hands-on experiments. Just let this one read the experiment and he will be just fine. I can say this with confidence because I am a visual learner.
What Is Your Teaching Style?
So many times we get hung up on what our child's learning styles are, and this is important, but it is just as important to know what your teaching style is. If you don't enjoy teaching it, you won't bring the enthusiasm necessary to get your child enthusiastic about it.
As you thought about your child's learning style, did you think, “Awe that describes me.” If you are a visual learner, you may tend to think it's a waste of time to buy a bunch of manipulatives. If you are an auditory learner you may find yourself buying every educational cassette or CD.
The hard part is to find something that you can be excited about teaching and that will make life easier for your child. You may have to step out of your “natural tendencies” to meet your child's needs. With such a wide variety of curriculum choices available you should be able to find one that fills your child's needs and sparks your own enthusiasm.