Learning Styles

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Children fall into two categories: those who like school and those who hate school. The reason why some children hate school is because traditional classroom environments do not cater to their learning style.

That is why Mark Twain wrote, “I’ve never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

A book I possess, treasure and refer to on a regular basis is Cathy Duffy’s “101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.” Here is a summary of chapter four, on learning styles.

As a homeschooling teacher, you will make your life easier when you grasp three concepts:

A. Learning modalities

B. Learning styles

C. Teaching styles

A. Learning modalities

There are three types of sensory input, or learning modalities:

  • auditory (hearing)
  • visual (seeing)
  • kinesthetic (feeling or experiencing with one’s body)

People lean toward one more heavily than the others. Modalities help, but they are a bit too simplistic, even if you realize your child is 75% kinesthetic and 25% auditory. That’s where learning styles come in.

 

B. Learning styles

A learning style is the way a person most easily learns and processes new information or skills. A preschooler does not have a learning style yet and a five-year-old might change his learning style by the time he is ten. Up on your toes you go!

There are four learning styles:

  • Wiggly Willy (WW)
  • Perfect Paula (PP)
  • Competent Carl (CC)
  • Social Sue (SS)

Don’t worry about male/female names. Focus on characteristics. A girl can be a Wiggly Willy and a boy can be a Social Sue.

Wiggly Willy would rather play and have fun than work. He dislikes paperwork and record keeping. He leans toward the fine arts, physical education and activity-oriented classes. This student must be taught using hands-on activities, multi-sensory audio-visual aids, short, dynamic presentations and learning games. Variety is key.

Perfect Paula likes planning and following schedules. She is not very good at coming up with creative ideas. She gets upset easily when others don’t cooperate. PP is more comfortable with “cut and dry” subjects than those which require exploration with no clear answers. Best methods for this child: workbooks, consistent structure, lectures that follow an outline, drill and review, and time to prepare for any discussion (remember, she has a hard time with creativity).

Competent Carl likes to be in control. He thinks and acts logically and has trouble understanding others’ feelings and emotions. He prefers math and science rather than language arts. Methods to use with CC: independent work, logically organized lessons, clear sense of purpose for lessons, long-term projects, problem solving, brainstorming.

Sociable Sue worries about what other people think. She is idealistic and interested more in general concepts rather than details. Social Sue prefers language arts, social studies and fine arts. When teaching SS, use real books, unit studies, discussions, social interaction, public presentations and situations where she is personally recognized and valued. Sociable Sue needs repetition for detail and help with self-discipline.

 

C. Teaching styles

Think about how you like to learn. That’s also the way you like to teach. The above four learning styles apply to teachers as well. In His wisdom, God gives a Sociable Sue daughter to a Perfect Paula mother to help both of them develop their characters. Don’t you love it!

 

Winning Formula

Put learning modalities together with learning styles for a winning formula. An example should help. Your child might be a kinesthetic Sociable Sue. As such, she prefers more project-oriented learning. If you had an auditory Sociable Sue, she will lean toward sedentary, read-aloud activities.

So should we pamper our children by catering to their learning styles and modalities and never push them outside their comfort zone? Not at all. Use your knowledge of their particular learning style to introduce new and difficult subject matter. Once they have grasped a concept, use other more challenging methods. Case in point: a very active Wiggly Willy can learn math by using objects, without paper and pencil. Once he has mastered a concept, have him do a worksheet of review and practice.

Teach to their strength and review through their weakness, thus helping them grow not just academically, but in self-discipline as well.

Your next job is to match learning styles to curricula and fine tune the motivation process.

Finally, if you have tried everything and your child still does not “get” it, he might have a learning disability. Your local homeschool support group can recommend a professional in your area who will help you determine what is going on.

For extra credit, read Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson’s book: “Discover Your Child’s Learning Style.”

Leave me a comment below about your experience with learning styles. Have you figured out your child’s learning style yet?

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Deciding to Homeschool

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It took me years to make this decision. Here’s the background…

Back in 1993, I moved from Romania to the United States on a college scholarship. Some of my classmates had been homeschooled K-12. Their maturity level and quality of social interaction were well above average. Mental note #1.

I read Dr. Raymond Moore’s “Better Late Than Early” for my Education minor. Mental note #2.

In 1999 and in 2001, I worked alongside Dr. Moore himself. I understood a bit more about homeschooling as I watched the tutors at The Moore Foundation counsel with parents over the phone. Mental note #3.

A decade, a wedding, and two children later, I started looking at educational options for my children. My private school of choice was one hour away. Not feasible. Our public school system produces National Merit Scholars, but I felt a tug at my heart about teaching my own. Besides the tug, I felt insecurity and fear that I would not know how to homeschool. I prayed for wisdom and figured that if this were a calling, things would fall into place.

I also decided knowledge would be power, so I got knowledge. I spent hundreds of hours pouring over how-to-homeschool manuals, magazines and blogs, over a period of eighteen months. Kind of like a master’s degree in education, but without the $30,000+ piece of paper called “Diploma.”

What I found was inspiring and liberating. I felt I was home free. Literally. Mental note #4.

My husband and I decided it was worth a try. I am leaving out many details, which I will tackle one at a time in future posts.

This blog is my way of giving back to the cyber space which offered me so much information and asked for nothing in return.

2013 may be the year we start homeschooling officially, but we already have eight years under our belts as parent teachers. How so? I hear you ask. Well, tell me, dear reader, don’t we all teach our children since birth? Every step they take, every word they say, every skill they acquire, they all come with guidance from parents. Not to mention colors, shapes, letters, numbers, animals, manners, Latin… Well, maybe not quite the Latin part yet, but you get my point.

Then, I count each child’s age separately, not cumulatively. Why? Because every child is unique. Every child learns differently. That requires different skills and methods from me as their teacher. My children are three and five as I type. As such, I have 3+5=8 years of experience in preschool. Voilà! Eight years in the trenches, molding and shaping little hands, hearts and heads.

My hope for this blog is that it will become a forum where questions can be asked and answered by people interested in home education.

What about you? How did you decide (not) to homeschool?

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