Well, the holidays are over and it’s back to school. I confess, we started back a whole week earlier than I intended because we needed order back in our lives. It’s amazing how children, who complain about doing school and not having time to play, suddenly are bored (bored = causing trouble) when they have weeks of free time. It’s the old “If you don’t find something to do I will find you something to do!” (All those things your mother said to you that you never thought you would catch yourself saying!)
Over the break, Pureflix reached out to me with a blog post on different learning styles. Pureflix is a Christian film studio that produces and streams family friendly movies and other content. Like Netflix, but without all the titles and cover images that you quickly try to shield your child from as you’re scrolling through the list.
Knowing your child’s learning style can be an invaluable asset as you endeavor to teach. I’ll let you go over to their blog to get the full explanation, but it has been broken down into 4 styles. Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic. The idea is that each of us have a way that we best process information and by teaching in that style your child will learn faster and more efficiently.
Visual learners need graphics and images to help them understand a concept. Some of my kids learn this way. When we’re doing math especially I find it very helpful to draw out the idea in picture form. When you’re trying to understand which fraction is bigger it’s great to use a picture of a pizza and talk about how many slices you want to get versus how many slices your brother is getting.
Auditory learners like to hear things out loud. Oddly enough, out of 8 kids, I don’t really have any auditory learners. Sure, they all like to talk out loud and make noises while they are working, but generally these all have nothing to do with learning and everything to do with annoying the person sitting across the table from them. It is very hard to do your math when your sister is belting out some song from Newsies while doing her own math.
Reading/Writing learners like to make lists and notes about what they are reading. Who doesn’t like a list? A beautiful, clearly laid out list with all the information neatly grouped, where you can see how everything relates and…ok, so I might be a reading/writing learner. Or maybe I just love lists. Does anyone else like to make a list and cross things out? Do you break things down into smaller items on the list so you have more things to cross off? Do you enjoy the feeling of drawing a line through each item? Or is it just me?
Kinesthetic learners like to move and act things out. To touch what they are doing. These types of learners can really enjoy manipulatives and lapbooks. I am not a kinesthetic learner. In fact, I hate lapbooks. I know. That’s a horrible thing for a homeschool mom to say. Coloring, cutting things out, gluing tiny pieces of paper <shudder>.
Which brings me to my own personal learning style tip. Knowing your child’s learning style is very important, but it is equally important to know your teaching style. With my first child I tried to be a kinesthetic teacher. We did lapbooks. We colored pictures. We spent hours cutting out tiny intricate things and creating paper projects that instantly tore and were thrown away. (Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it felt that way.) Basically, I made myself miserable because I thought that this was what homeschooling was all about. If I didn’t lapbook, I wasn’t teaching, and I quickly reached the point where I would rather stick a pencil in my eye than look at another lapbook.
It seems like common sense now, but lapbooks were not my teaching style and that was ok. We no longer lapbook. My kids color on their own time. And if we’re short on time, I have no problem stepping in with the scissors and quickly cutting out whatever it is and moving on. I’ve learned my own teaching style and while I try to accommodate each of my kids learning styles, I remember that if I’m going crazy trying to teach it in a certain way, they’re probably not really learning anything either.
Bonus tip: As I finished writing this post, I remembered something that my vocal professor taught me in college. He said that if you really want to remember something, try to use at least 3 ways to learn it. That way, under pressure, your brain has more than one built in pathway to follow to the answer. For example, instead of just memorizing a song by just listening to it over and over, use two other styles in addition. Play the song out on the piano as you read it. That’s the kinesthetic part. Write out the notes on staff paper. That’s the reading/writing. Then, under pressure, you are less likely to drawn a blank.
I found this useful in my other classes as well. Just going over my notes from a class was not as effective as copying them out again, while reading them out loud. Using all four learning styles to study would help cement the information in my head and if I forgot something I’d read I could try to remember what it sounded like, what it looked like on the page, what it felt like to write it.
Check out additional homeschool resources that Pureflix has to offer here.
You know that family that shows up to church in the 15 passenger van? The one that homeschools? Ever wondered how they make it through the day or wished you could be a fly on the wall of their house? Well, I'm inviting you in. I'm 36 and I ride herd on 8 children (oldest is 12), 3 cats, 2 bearded dragons, and one puppy. It's loud, chaotic, and imperfect. Welcome to Life in the Big House!