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Friday, December 17, 2010

Learning Styles in Your Homeschool

I have no idea why my learning style is.

I am an intensely visual person, but I remember movie quotes and funny sayings often hearing them only once. In fact, I used books on tape to get through my AP English class in high school. I wrote a paper on Heart of Darkness by flipping back and forth through the book to zero in on the passages I remembered listening to on tape. Even so, you can't just tell me directions. Even writing them down won't help me much. I have to do the steps myself a few times before I've got it. That's why I don't read instruction manuals and how-to guides. Far better for me: Hand me a working website or computer program and I'll tinker with it until I understand how the code works.

This confusing interplay of learning styles and approaches to gaining knowledge can be frustrating for teachers (parents) as well. It drives my wife crazy that I refuse to even open the help manual when I'm stuck, and instead look for some tangible walk-throughs and videos online.

Speaking of online videos, we have a video that is all about homeschooling students of various learning styles and approaches:

Exploring Your Child's Learning Styles

As I read this post about one homeschooler's frustration with the school system and visual learning style differences, I got thinking about The Stroop Test. This is a simple and yet powerful reminder that we are more than a single input/output mechanism. As humans, our brains take in and process information combining multiple stimuli.

So if your student is struggling, or you're struggling with your student, take some time to consider your child's learning style, and perhaps utilize some of the suggestions in the video above.

You can find more helpful homeschool videos on our Homeschool Helps page.

Do your children learn the same way you do? Have you had to adjust the way you teach certain subjects to match your child's learning style?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester


Stephanie C said...

My older son is a kinesthetic learner (learns by doing), and we struggled with read-alouds for a few years before I learned about letting him fiddle with something while I read to him. That made a huge difference in his retention!!

Catherine (Alecat Music) said...

My children learn in very different ways. When they were younger, I thought that what I'd bought for the elder would suit the next child. I was warned that she may be different to her brother, and I should have heeded that warning!

My son is happy to be absorbed in books and learning from watching. He quietly sits and listens, then goes off to perform the task.

My daughter needs to 'play' and do. She has to be busy if there's a story, yet she can still narrate back or ask the appropriate questions.

As a homeschooling mum, I've learnt a lot about how to teach to these different styles. You just can't expect your children to be like you, or even exactly like each other.

Luke Holzmann said...

Totally, Stephanie. We often played with Legos while my mom read <smile>.

Alecat, absolutely.<smile>


Unknown said...

Learning styles are so important to help the child learn in a lower stress environment. As a classroom teacher, I am taught to present the same material in multiple ways in order to maximize the amount of children that will understand the material. As a home educator, I can save a lot of time by engaging my daughter in activities which suit her learning style(s). Research shows that children can exhibit multiple learning styles, so knowing which one(s) suit your children will help immensely. Great post, Luke! Oh, and the legos while listening to read alouds (or playdough coloring, drawing, etc) is the advice I give out most often to people first starting with Sonlight. You are right, some children (mine included) need a hands on activity while reading to increase retention. My daughter also reads her readers while standing most of the time (or pacing in a circle or petting the dog), but she is an excellent reader with great comprehension.

Luke Holzmann said...

"As a home educator, I can save a lot of time by engaging my daughter in activities which suit her learning style(s)." Totally!

And I am amazed at how many times I hear from people that their children do better when standing, spinning, sitting in a tree, etc. I wonder how much test scores would improve if schools simply had the flexibility in environment that homeschooling offers us?



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