Hi everyone! I am homeschooling/unschooling my 9 year old and a conversation with a friend recently made me start thinking about learning styles, and I realized I have no idea what his is - or mine, really! I'm thinking understanding him a bit more in this way would be helpful. But I don't really know how to figure out it, especially considering I don't even know what my style is - talk about self-awareness, or not! :) Any suggestions for learning about this would be greatly appreciated. TIA!
Learning styles and types of intelligences were all the rage when I first started homeschooling. There are tons of learning style quizzes on-line, but I haven't found them all that helpful. Maybe my kids and I are just weird, but we tend to display some strong traits and preferences that according to such surveys shouldn't really go together. I'm not convinced any more that learning styles are really the golden ticket. I did read one book that I found helpful and not overly simplistic: "How Your Child is Smart" by Dawna Markova.
I think the best clues about learning style come from observing the type of activity that really engages and excites a person. And really, that's what's important: an engaged learner. I also think that it's important to not (a) assume learning styles are static as a child grows and matures. For instance, it's very common for kids to go from a more auditory to a more visual style of learning as they mature beyond the developmental window for language acquisition. And all 4-year-old boys are kinesthetic learners, lol! A lot of things can change, though. And the other thing: even if you can identify one strong, long-term preferred learning style I don't think it's a good idea to always cater to it. Everyone will encounter learning that needs to be done in another fashion, and maybe the people who don't naturally learn, say, with an auditory style, would benefit a lot from stretching their brain in that direction so that (a) they're not completely blind-sided if they get to a point in life where they have to learn something that way and (b) they appreciate the richness and solidity that happens when you combine multiple types of learning into one synthesis.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Thanks Miranda! I'm not really thinking learning styles are the golden ticket, but a part of the puzzle, you know? Another piece of data. :)
That's a good point about learning styles changing as you change, grow older, etc. And also a good point about not catering to one particular learning style!
I'm not really just thinking about learning styles a la auditory, kinesthetic, etc. but also how a person processes information and makes connections, though maybe that is the same thing? For example, I often write things out to figure them out, or I talk the ear off my husband (my poor husband!!). My son is not as talkative as me (thank god!), but he does ask some very interesting questions and ponders them out loud, though it seems he must have been thinking about them quietly to himself first. We've been exploring project learning and I love a lot of it, especially the mentoring aspect, but it's not a great fit for us right now (though it 'worked well' for us at the beginning) - partly because though my son has done things off his own bat in the past that would count as projects, labelling them as such seems to kill the interest!! It puts pressure on him, I think. But also even his projects that he got the most into are quite minimal by pbh's standards, I think. (I've seen the unschooling thread on this so I know you are aware of the concept!) He doesn't 'go deep' in the way that's wanted - a value judgement there - he does what he wants to do, and then he's finished. It's not because he hasn't been mentored correctly to go deeper - he's satisfied and done. For sure, there are times when he gets stuck and so the mentoring approach (which just seems like unschooling to me anyhow - my approach to it at least - but pbh does a good job of explaining it and motivating me) helps then to get him past that and, yes, go deeper, but most of the time he's really just done! LOL! So bringing this back to learning styles, my thinking was that maybe pbh works best with certain learning styles (or maybe just personalities?) - and not so much for kids who ponder things quietly to themselves?? So I started wondering more about how he learns, to see if there is something else there to help me help him learn, for him to make connections, etc.
Though really he mostly just wants to play. :)
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