Thursday, July 16, 2009

Learning Styles

Knowing your child's learning style is important. With this information, you can truly enhance the communication in your home because you will gain a tool to speak their language. If you know their learning style, as a homeschooling mom, you can determine why certain products can enhance your child’s learning style and strengthen their weaker learning styles.

The best way for children to learn is to play. One of the ways to make play engaging and effective is to understand how to match a toy with a child’s learning style, to best engage the child, and more importantly, to help experiences that will enable a child to develop additional learning styles. When children develop more than one learning style, they can increase their understanding and retention. Allow me to explain; when a child learns about the letter C visually, by seeing it on a blackboard, for instance, a neural pathway is laid down in the brain. When that child also learns about the letter "C", auditorily, by sounding it out, another neural pathway is laid down in a different place in the brain. And if a child lays his body down in the shape of the letter "C", kinesthetically, a third neural pathway is laid down in the brain. That is three pathways for learning the same thing. Can you see what an edge in learning this would be?

Let me give you another example: suppose you’ve just purchased a new desk. You know, the kind you have to put together at home? It comes in fifty separate pieces, accompanied by an instruction booklet to help you assemble it. How do you manage this? If you need to start working with the parts physically, you’re probably a kinesthetic learner. If reading the instructions clarifies things for you, you are most likely visual. If you can put it together if you ask someone to tell you how, you are probably primarily an auditory learner.

It is important to know that people use all three learning modes every day, yet usually there is one dominant learning style by which each of us can best access information. It is also good to remember that people tend to revert to their dominant learning style when strong emotions such as anger, sadness or embarrassment prevail or when there is stress or school. It’s the difference between learning and loving to learn or reading and loving to read!

Isn't loving to learn the goal? When you can, try to teach your child through their dominant learning style and practice using the weaker learning styles on less stressful topics.

This can start at a very early age. For example lets using reading a book. Cuddle a child on your lap and let him turn the pages. Books that normallly appeal to visual and auditory learners now satisfy the needs of a kinesthetic learner. I will admit that the ambitious helper may not let you finish reading the page before turning, but the important thing is that they are participating, which is important to a kinesthetic learner. Even children with learning challenges, such as dyslexia, can often overcome such barriers and become voracious readers with a little cuddle and some interaction.

The Quiz
Since how you learn can play an important roll in homeschooling or any schooling for that matter, its important to identify that primary learning style. It helps you to know what tools will be best when teaching him/her. A child that is completely auditory in learning style will not do well reading from a textbook on a daily basis and a kinesthetic learning doesn't want to look at a diagram, they want to do it themselves. The quiz below will help you to identify your child's learning style a little better and hopefully direct your efforts when teaching picking a curriculum or teaching a difficult concept.

Learning Styles Quiz
This quiz was designed to help you determine your child’s natural learning style. Circle all answers that apply.

1. When my child is learning something new, he/she:
a) Says “show me.”
b) Needs to listen and/or talk it through.
c) Gets his or her hands on it.

2. The activities my child enjoys most are:
a) Playing computer games or watching videos or movies.
b) Listening to the radio or tapes and CD’s.
c) Outdoor games and sports.

3. My child expresses his/her feelings by:
a) Making facial expressions.
b) Talking about them.
c) Using touch or her body instead of words.

4. When placed in an unfamiliar setting, my child:
a) Warms up slowly.
b) Joins right in.
c) Relates to others with his or her body instead of words.

5. As a baby, my child:
a) Especially enjoyed looking at things.
b) Babbled a lot.
c) Often needed to be held.

6. My child’s personality can be best described as:
a) Not very emotional outwardly.
b) Very dramatic, enjoys having an audience.
c) Sensitive, with easily hurt feelings.

7. My child is easily distracted by:
a) Color and movement.
b) Voices and music.
c) Movement and sounds.

8. My child prefers:
a) Looking at things, being an observer.
b) Listening and talking.
c) Touching things, engaging in activities involving movement.

9. The skills that are strongest in my child are his/her:
a) Fine motor skills (i.e. holding small pieces, coloring, etc.).
b) Ability to follow directions.
c) Eye-hand coordination.

Count all the “a”, “b”, and “c” answers. Mostly “a” answers, indicate a visual learner, “b” answers indicate an auditory learner, mostly “c” answers indicate a kinesthetic learner.

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