Frustrated once again, I questioned this whole homeschooling thing. I thought maybe it just wasn’t for us – not for my son, or not for me.
I briefly pondered the thought of just sending him to school. After all, they are professional teachers and I’m not. They had gone to school to learn how to teach and I obviously didn’t know what I was doing.
I questioned myself, questioned him. Maybe he needed to have his ears checked; maybe he needed to have his eyes checked. Maybe he was dyslexic or had some sort of learning disorder. Maybe I was being too hard on him; maybe I was being too easy on him. Maybe there was something wrong with him; maybe there was something wrong with me.
Every day he became frustrated because he couldn’t do the work and I became frustrated because he wouldn’t do the work. This definitely wasn’t how I had pictured homeschooling.
Deep down, I knew sending him to school wasn’t the answer, but I also felt that he wasn’t grasping some things like he should. My first thoughts went to finding a different curriculum, but I realized that it wasn’t about finding the right curriculum; it was about finding the way that my child learned. And obviously, the way I was trying to teach him was not the way he learned. Then I learned something about learning.
Most experts agree that there are three distinct learning styles: Auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Although most people are a combination of the three, there is usually one style that is dominant over the rest.
Auditory learners learn best by hearing. They like for information to be told to them, but have trouble looking at information and deciphering it. They can be relaxed by certain noises and can sometimes be perceived as distracted because they prefer to have music or some other background noise in order to focus on the task at hand. They are often talkers, talking to themselves or others.
Visual learners learn from seeing information. They like to take notes and are normally neat and organized. They tend to have the “see it to believe it” philosophy. They are often distracted by sounds and movement and prefer a quiet, peaceful work area. They are usually good readers and gathering information from books or charts comes easy.
Kinesthetic learners like to move. This type is usually the one that is labeled as antsy or hyperactive. They are usually good with their hands and can put things together without directions. They also have strong body language and usually talk with their hands. They greatly benefit by using physical activities for learning.
I am a visual learner. My son is a kinesthetic learner. I didn’t get it before. Learning always came very easy for me. I read the books, studied the material, and absorbed the information; that’s it, no biggie. I didn’t understand people who didn’t learn this way; until it was my son who did not learn this way. Before this year, I knew nothing about different learning styles, but once I discovered them, I knew immediately that he was a kinesthetic learner and that was the reason that he was not “getting it.”
I had to throw everything that I knew about learning out the window and figure out what was best for him. I realized that I could continue to sound letters out for him and ask him if he heard the long a sound in gate until I was blue in the face, but he wouldn’t hear it, he couldn’t hear it. Not yet anyway. I could ask him the beginning sound in cat over and over, but he couldn’t tell me. If I wrote it down and he could see it, he would tell me. But if I turned it into a game of scrabble and threw a bunch of random letters down on the table, he could not only pick the beginning sound of cat, but he could spell it frontwards, backwards and at an angle (literally!), all without even hardly looking at the letters on the tiles. The first time he did this, my jaw dropped.
Does this mean that figuring out your child’s learning style is the magical formula for always having perfect school days and never have your child mutter, “But maa-aawm, I don’t wanna do school today.” Of course not. But I can honestly say that since discovering his learning style and implementing a few simple changes he has been much more pleasant to work with and seems to be grasping the concepts better. He has been less frustrated with the work and I, in turn, have been less frustrated with him.
What have your own experiences been? What learning style does your child(ren) have?