Saturday, September 6, 2008

Heart of the Matter: Children's Learning Styles

We discussed curriculum and would love to hear how these choices best teach your children according to their specific learning styles. Are they visual learners? Auditory? Kinesthetic? Give us your best teaching methods!

This is such an important topic for me! I have loved learning about my son's learning style. It has made our homeschooling experience so much more positive. I think I really learned a lot about his style after visiting The Well Trained Mind Forums. A friend of mine (Shelby) forwarded me a thread from the site because she thought it fit C's description. I learned right off the bat that he's a visual spatial learner. There are a lot of online resources for such learners. Too, there are a lot of GREAT books, as well. With this knowledge in tow, I looked at how he learned in a whole new light. I could use his strengths to make learning time a lot more enjoyable, while understanding the challenges he faces in writing and sitting still(he's a kinesthetic learner, too, LOL).

The choices we've made with curriculum this year have all been based on how C learns. It shows in how much easier this year has been than those in the past when we weren't armed with the information about C's learning habits. Everything from MathUSee, which uses manipulatives and really caters to how visual learners incorporate this information through their lessons. Handwriting Without Tears is much the same, you use wooden pieces to make the letters (visual), and then there are really catchy, fun ways to learn to make the letters on chalkboard, clay (kinesthetic), or paper. For example, there are letters that use a "magic c" as a basis for forming the letter. A fun song also emphasizes the importance of beginning letters at the top. Although, C is reluctant to sing ;) the songs really help it to stick. He has learned the months of the year, and days of the week this way as well. We tend to gravitate toward Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum. She discusses the importance of short lessons that really take time to understand concepts. We really like that. Add to that the narration and sketches of everything from nature studies to geography terms. Finally, we really love All About Spelling. It is a very solid program that also helps visual learners by doing many lessons using letter tiles and THEN writing them on paper.

I had to also understand that C is a child and the purpose of our schooling at home is not to reenact the traditional school environment. We take a lot of breaks, otherwise I will "lose" him. I didn't think we needed a schoolroom in the past, but now I really see the advantages for our family. That said, sometimes school is done on the floor of our schoolroom. There are days when he learns by chasing skimmers or hunting for crawdads in a stream. I love that home learning invites all those options.

Check out Heart of the Matter on the right side of the screen to see more about learning styles and curriculum choices that other parents have made.