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Learning Styles: Resources (Part 6)

Our discussion the past few weeks barely scratches the surface of learning styles, but they give you a starting point. I don’t pretend to be an expert on learning styles, so instead I’ll recommend some resources below. In addition, merely Googling “learning styles” nets a plethora of definitions, quizzes, and websites. 

The Way They Learn, Cynthia Ulrich Tobias
Every Child Can Succeed, Cynthia Ulrich Tobias
Carol Barnier, author and speaker, http://www.carolbarnier.com/
Personalized homeschool curricula advice online by Cathy Duffy, http://homeedexpert.com/nav.aspx
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Learning Styles: Orderliness (Part 5)

So, what does orderliness have to do with learning styles? Quite a bit, actually! For instance, I personally can’t focus on learning anything if my environment is a mess. What about you? What about your kids?

We all know about the messies and the neatniks, but let’s put these into an academic context. On the one hand, we have the sequential/concrete learners (mostly the neatniks). On the other hand, we have the global/random learners (usually the messies). Sequential learners need to learn things one at a time in an orderly fashion. They’re building their foundations one brick at a time. The concrete part means that they need to see, hear, feel, or touch it. Abstract concepts are usually difficult for the concrete learner to grasp.
            Global learners prefer to see/know the whole picture all at once. While they may still get from point A to point B, they usually don’t take the most conventional route. Their minds jump randomly from one thought to another. Abstract concepts are much more easily grasped for this type of learner.

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Learning Styles: Setting (Part 4)

Are your children loners or groupies? The setting can make all the difference. Some kids need to absorb the energy of a group and need to bounce their ideas off others in order to learn. Unless you live in Timbuktu, co-ops, library groups, scouts, church groups, and other opportunities abound. The more your little groupies are involved, the better.
            Other kids are too distracted in a group setting and prefer to process information on their own (or with just you). They prefer to compare their new experiences with their own prior knowledge and perceptions. While a few social gatherings are a good thing for your loners, don’t expect them to be enthusiastic with a different co-op meeting every day.

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Learning Styles: Output (Part 3)

What about output? Most output is either oral or written, but movement output can’t be discounted. Oral learners hate written tests and essays with a passion. They do, however, usually perform much better by answering questions out loud, or by talking through their paragraphs or essays while someone else types them. Learning how to use a computer can be a big help to oral learners, but they may still need to be encouraged to practice out loud before typing it. Discussions are the way to go for this type of learner; forget about workbooks with many empty lines. Of course, oral learners will have to be taught gradually how to write effectively as they get older. Standardized college entrance tests can’t be done orally, neither can the boss’s written report.
            Learners who prefer to write will thrive with those empty workbook pages and essays. If you ask for a paragraph, you’re likely to get several. Discussions and speeches are much harder for this type of learner, but should still be encouraged.
            The wigglers will still have to give some answers verbally (orally or written), but should also be allowed to act out scenes from books and move while reciting, as appropriate.

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Learning Styles: Intake (Part 2)

How do our children intake and process information most effectively? That’s how we want to teach them!

Auditorily, visually, and kinesthetically are the three main ways in which to intake information. Auditory learners prefer to be read to, to read aloud and to repeat information over and over again. Auditory learners will learn best with audio books, singing math and geography songs, and reciting verses out loud. As much as possible, aim to provide books on tape (CDs, MP3s, etc.) and to encourage verbal repetition.
            Visual learners need to see it to understand it. They usually love reading, and understand more easily with graphs, charts, and pictures. Provide lots of quality reading material and don’t be frustrated if this child doesn’t want to be read to as much after she learns how to read herself. This is the easiest style to accommodate, because much curricula is visually oriented.
            The little wigglers really can’t help themselves; they’re most likely kinesthetic learners. They may be required to sit still in Mrs. Smith’s first grade classroom, but in our homeschools, let them wiggle. I have found that to require absolute stillness from kinesthetic learners is a recipe for disaster. Sure, they may sit perfectly still for five minutes, but they won’t be able to concentrate on anything else; all of their energy will be directed towards not fidgeting. By allowing some movement, we free up their minds to intake academic information. Some not-too-intrusive ideas are allowing a little squishy ball to hold and squeeze, standing for a while, sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair, and allowing movements (such as making up a cheer for a Bible verse). Their concrete nature means that they’ll need manipulatives for math. Most children start off being kinesthetic learners, but many outgrow the need to touch and/or move in order to learn as they get older.

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Learning Styles Introduction (Part 1)

          How do you retain new information best? Chances are, at least one of your children does not learn the same way that you do. My older daughter does learn the same way that I do, so I was in for a shock when I tried the same style and activities with my younger daughter. It should be no surprise that not everyone learns best with the same style of teaching. That’s why so many people do not have good memories of their school years; they just weren’t taught in a way that engaged them. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can discover our children’s learning styles and teach them in a way that they will enjoy and retain information. Learning styles are similar to personality traits. Every book I’ve read, and every person I’ve heard speak on the subject gave different titles to different traits and styles. For the next several posts, I’ve lumped the different styles into four categories: intake, output, setting, and orderliness.