Taking the Mystery Out of Learning Styles.
At birth we are all essentially Tactile Learners (by touch) — we know what we feel. Our most highly developed sense of touch at that early age is in our mouths, and yet, so many people are surprised that babies automatically put everything into their mouths. Those little learners are simply exploring their world in the only way they know how. I am quite sure that babies realize they will not obtain nourishment from their own fists, but instead attempt to learn everything they can about that first “toy” by sucking, chewing, biting — studying it with a highly trained sense of touch.
Kinesthetic Learning (by movement) begins when Baby starts moving voluntarily. Every flailing movement of those tiny arms and legs is a major accomplishment for him. He is working on mastery of motor skills, from struggling to hold his head up to grasping a crayon and beginning to scribble.
With the understanding of language comes a new style of learning: Auditory Learning (by hearing). As children grow through toddler-hood, they learn the dimension of speech. Now Junior can be given oral instructions and is able to respond to them. Many parents regret this stage.
Visual Learning (by sight) does not get fully under way until reading skills are mastered. Some early responses are visually motivated: Junior can easily determine that his brother has two cookies and he only has one, but it takes reading to completely open up the world of visual learning.
It is our greatest accomplishment as teachers to teach our children how to learn. If we can teach them to learn in many ways, we have achieved even more success. We each have a natural tendency to learn in one style more readily than the others, but as we gain knowledge and confidence, we can expand our learning abilities as well.
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results each time. Similarly, I think we are setting ourselves up for failure in homeschooling by using the same approach over and over with each successive child, expecting consistently positive results. You know how different your children are, how they have dramatically different tastes in clothing, favorite foods, preferred recreational activities, etc. Why should you expect them each to react exactly like the others when it comes to educational choices?
Take a moment to list the name and grade level of each child you teach. List each one’s strongest subject (the one for which they need the least amount of assistance/motivation) and his weakest subject (the one for which they need the most assistance/motivation). Keep these details in mind as you read through the sections on individual learning styles. Take notice of why each child is strong or weak in any particular subject area and gather ideas for what you can try as a new approach.
Diagnostic Tools to Help the Homeschooling Parent also includes information on learning styles!