If you want to be an effective homeschooler, you must know your child’s learning style. What is her preferred method for grasping information? Most people use a combination of styles but have a decided predilection for one. There are three basic learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic or physical. Adjusting your style of teaching to her style of learning will greatly enhance the homeschooling experience for both of you. So, let’s explore these styles.
An auditory learner is one who learns best by hearing. She does well in a lecture class or by listening to audiobooks. It is not unusual to hear her repeating something out loud when she is trying to memorize the information. This type of learner is usually good at linguistics. She picks up foreign languages easily, and when speaking with people who have accents, she may subconsciously begin speaking with that accent. My wife has to warn our foreign friends that my daughter and I are not trying to mimic them. We can’t help ourselves. Some auditory learners insist on having music in the background while they are studying. It helps them focus. Ironically, others demand to complete quiet. Any sound that does not pertain to what they are studying is a distraction. Does your child frequently break out in song? Does she make up a melody in order to memorize a poem? When the light bulb turns on in her head, does she say, “I hear what you mean.”? If so, she is probably an auditory learner.
A visual learner is easier to recognize. She prefers reading over being read to. You will often find her drawing or coloring. List making and doodling are common pastimes. It will take her a while to understand a lecture, so putting an outline or notes on the board would be a great help to her. Try to avoid oral testing. She will do better with writing essays or drawing maps. She will be a meticulous note-taker. Her notes will be complete with underlining, color coding, charts, and diagrams. Do not be surprised when you discover her fashion consciousness. This applies to boys, too. If you have more than one child, the quiet one is more likely to be a visual learner. Her light bulb response would be, “I see where you are coming from.”
Kinesthetic learning, or learning by doing, is the most prominent style found in young children. This is due in part to their lack of development. As your children grow, the one that cannot sit still is the kinesthetic learner. She has to experience things and will be bored to death by lectures. She will be your athletic child, always on the go. Spelling and handwriting – forget about it. Give her a nice lab course any day. She will prefer adventure books and movies over the classics. Having her build a diorama depicting a scene from a book will benefit her more than writing a book report. Field trips are one of your best tools for teaching your kinesthetic learner. Most importantly, allow her to move around, and give her breaks throughout the day. With our son, we would occasionally stop lessons and go to the park for an hour to let him burn off some of his neverending energy. Light bulb moment: “I’m getting a handle on this subject.”
It is easy to see the usefulness of adapting your teaching to the child’s style of learning. To not do so would result in a long, difficult, and frustrating school year. You will actually find it refreshing to be able to use different teaching methods for each of your children. It will eliminate monotony. Have fun, and enjoy your kids!