A classroom of students is actually a classroom of individuals, each of whom possesses different talents, faces different challenges, and learns in different ways. A classroom teacher with 25-35 students can’t take the time to work with each one individually; she only has the time to present the information and perhaps help a few struggling students before moving on to the next subject. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling, however, is that with a small number of students, you as the parent have the time to know them as individuals, and as the teacher you can discover the most effective way to teach them.
Studies have shown that children learn in different ways; what works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another. If you can identify your child’s learning style, you’ll be able to present information in a way in which they can process and remember it more easily. Experts have identified three main learning styles: auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (doing).
Students who are auditory learners learn best by hearing. These children may be very sensitive to changes in voice, quickly recognizing the speaker’s emotions as they talk. They also have strong language skills of their own, allowing them to speak and communicate their ideas effectively. They remember the details of previous conversations and can often relay them accurately. Children with an auditory learning style enjoy listening to (and can remember) lessons presented on CDs or in audiobooks. They often find that foreign language or music study comes more easily. When they are teaching themselves something new, they might talk to themselves or read aloud. These are the students who do well in a traditional school or college setting, where the instructor uses lectures to present the information.
A visual learner learns by seeing. Students who are visual learners write down instructions and remember best when pictures, diagrams, charts, and videos are used. They are able to visualize the information, forming images in their minds about the information they are reading. Unlike auditory learners, visual learners remember a concept best if they are shown how to do it rather than being told. In conversations, they are often more aware of facial expressions and body language, using these to understanding the speaker’s emotions instead of just what was said. They enjoy looking at art and different types of visual media. As these children study, other visual stimuli, such as a television program, other children playing outside, or a cat chasing a bird can be distracting and keep them from concentrating on their work.
Children who are kinesthetic learners need a hands-on approach. They learn best by doing something, such as building, touching, or moving, and want to be completely involved in an activity. These students often like to build models, and they are good at taking things apart and then putting them back together again. They usually don’t sit still for very long, and their bodies are constantly moving and fidgeting — a struggle for the classroom teacher who needs everyone to sit still and listen. Kinesthetic learners are the ones who often excel at physical challenges, however, such as those presented in sports or dance. Most children under age five are kinesthetic learners, experiencing new things first-hand; other learning styles don’t become apparent until more formal schooling has begun.
To discover your child’s learning styles, pay attention to the words he uses when he speaks. Are they related to hearing, such as “talk,” “sound,” or “listen;” seeing, such as “watch” or “look;” or doing, such as “go,” “run,” or “act?” What are the things he likes to do in his free time? Does he like to sing (auditory), draw (visual), or work with his hands (kinesthetic)? If he has to teach someone else to do something, would he do it by explaining it, drawing a diagram, or demonstrating the process step by step? If you’re still unsure about your child, there are a number of quizzes both online and in books that can help.
Just as a classroom teacher can have a room full of students with different learning styles, so a homeschooling parent with more than one child can have different types of learners to teach. Once you discover your child’s learning style, however, you can find a curriculum that best fits your child and allows you to teach effectively. If you have a child struggling with his or her schoolwork, consider what his learning style might be and try readjusting your approach. It will make school time more enjoyable for both of you.
Guest Blogger: Samantha Bell
Photo by rossination