Few things frustrate homeschoolers more than trying to teach a child who won't sit still, won't stop talking, or won't listen until the directions have been repeated twenty times.
However, our frustration could often be relieved if we simply understood differences in learning styles.
A child's dominate learning style, or learning modality, describes how he or she receives and processes information.
A child's primary learning style is referred to as his or her "dominant modality". The next favored learning style is referred to as the "secondary modality". A child's least favored modality is considered a "weakness".
Some children can function equally well using two different learning styles. This is known as "mixed modalities".
Because traditional classrooms cater to auditory and visual learners, children who are equally auditory and visual are generally labeled gifted. On the other hand, a kinesthetic and auditory child who learns through movement and sound may be incorrectly labeled hyperactive or ADHD.
As adults we have our own preferences as to how we receive or communicate information. Many times we want to teach our children in a way that makes sense to us.
However, it is counter productive to tell a kinesthetic child to sit still and listen, or to tell an auditory learner not to hum while writing. In doing so, we take away the very tools the child needs to learn.
Teaching to our child's modality makes learning more efficient and enjoyable. It also limits conflict and helps children learn to maximize their strengths and use them to compensate for areas of weakness.
The best way to determine your child's learning style is to study your child. Consider the following:
It may take some time and experimentation to figure out your child's dominant learning style. The goal is not to pigeon hole your child or make excuses for poor behavior, but to find ways to work with, not against, his or her natural strengths.
When teaching children with different learning styles, it is not always necessary to use multiple programs. While that may work for some families, it can also lead to frustration and burn out. Try using the suggestions below to tailor your curriculum to meet your child's needs.
Auditory learners receive information by listening or talking. They need to repeat information aloud or hear information repeated for accurate processing. This can take the form of repeating directions to themselves, saying answers aloud as they write them, and moving their lips while reading.
These children can be vocal and dramatic, and typically enjoy storytelling, audio tapes, reading aloud, listening to music, and playing instruments. They have a good memory for conversation, and thrive on group discussions, and asking and answering questions.
They usually follow oral directions well, and may frequently whistle, talk or hum to themselves. Homeschooling methods that involve reading aloud and group discussion may appeal to auditory learners. Consider unit studies, classical homeschooling or the Charlotte Mason method.
Visual learners receive information by seeing and making mental images. They may think in words, such as reading and writing, or images, such as charts, graphs, maps and drawings.
These children may move slowly because they are paying attention to details. They sometimes appear to be daydreaming, and prefer to watch an activity for a while before joining in.
Visual learners typically enjoy reading, math, art, and visual stimulation in the form of television and computer games. They have a good memory for pictures and the written word, and are adept at noticing similarities and differences. In subjects such as spelling, they determine whether or not a word is correct by asking the question, "Does it look right?"
Children who are visually oriented are generally neat and organized. Your visual learner may prefer classical homeschooling, traditional textbooks and workbooks or computer-based homeschooling over those that require projects and group interaction. Book lovers may also enjoy a literature rich approach, such as the Charlotte Mason method.
Another group of learners, known as visual-spatial learners, thinks visually, but focuses on the big picture rather than details. These children learn complex skills more easily than simpler ones, and have difficulty with the step-by-step methods used in most curricula. For more information about visual-spatial learners, visit Visual Spatial Resource.
Kinesthetic/tactile learners receive information by moving or touching. The term "kinesthetic" refers to large muscle movements such as those required for athletics or dance. "Tactile" refers to touch, or small motor movements such as those involved in sewing, typing or craftsmanship.
These children express themselves through gestures and body language, and can have extreme mood swings. They need physical action, and can best remember information that learned while participating in activities or imitating movements.
Kinesthetic learners are typically coordinated and adept at building and taking things apart. Homeschool methods which involve projects, models, and experiments will appeal to these individuals. Consider unit studies and Montessori homeschooling.
Discover Your Child's Learning Style by Mariaemma Ms Willis and Victoria Ma Kindle Hodson
Talkers, Watchers, and Doers: Unlocking Your Child's Unique Learning Style by Cheri Fuller
The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias
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