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Learning Styles-What You Need to Know Before You Homeschool Your Child

Learning StylesWhat are learning styles? Just as every person is different their likes and dislikes, each person has a unique style of learning as well. This means that every person has a way that they learn the best. Although there are many different learning theories, one of the common theories about learning styles is that there are three different types of learners: the visual learner, the auditory learner, and the kinesthetic learner. Singling out one style from the three learning styles to label a person with does not mean that the person does not use the other two learning styles, it just means that they use that particular style more or that they prefer that style.

Why is it important to know about learning styles when you homeschool? Knowing about each different style of learning is very important when you are educating your child in any home school setting. Some curriculums are designed in such a way that they are better for some learning styles more than others. This is one of the problems that public schools have. Teachers in these settings sometimes only teach in ways that are best for one style of learning such as for the visual learner or auditory learner and neglect the kinesthetic learner. Generally speaking, much of the public school curriculum is best for the auditory or visual learner. But, in a home school setting it is still vital that you select activities and curriculum to match your child's needs. It is especially important that you take into account your student's style of learning when you are introducing new materials.

What is a Visual Learner? A visual learner is someone that learns best through what they see. Information for a visual learner is best gathered through watching a demonstration, reading words written on paper, looking at a diagram, picture or chart, or visual representation. The visual learner may not be able to understand things if they are just expressed to them verbally. If you show a visual learner how to do something before they try it for the first time this is beneficial for them.

What type of curriculum is best for a visual learner? When you are working with a child that is a visual learner you need to make sure that you have lots of pictures, diagrams, and even books with information on them. The visual learner will be able to absorb the educational content much better than if you use curriculum that emphasizes one of the other learning styles. You cannot just tell the visual learner how to do something-they have to see it.

What is an Auditory Learner? As an auditory learner, an individual learns best when they hear information-such as in the spoken word. People who learn this way rather than the visual or kinesthetic learning styles would do well in many of the more “traditional” type classrooms where there are a lot of lectures and discussions. The auditory learner may also have a gift for music, because they can hear a piece of music and learn it that way.

What are teaching implications for an auditory learner? When introducing new material to an auditory learner, you should not simply have them read it silently. Read it to them. You can also use audio recordings. If you use videos or DVDs or even online material with an auditory learner, make sure that any demonstrations are not just shown, but also that there are oral instructions as well. This will give the auditory learner the appropriate sensory input for their style of learning. If you want to make your lessons more enjoyable and appropriate for this style of learning you may even want to include music as part of your curriculum.

What is a Kinesthetic Learner? A kinesthetic learner learns best through movement and tactile experiences-or by touching. This is one of the most neglected learning styles in traditional education. Children who prefer this style of learning are often forced to sit quietly in a chair and listen or watch as they are taught-which is fine with children who use other learning styles, but not for a kinesthetic learner. A kinesthetic learner would rather try something first than wait for it to be explained to them or shown to them. They want to move around the classroom, touch and feel things.

How can you help a Kinesthetic Learner? Give the kinesthetic learner lots of manipulatives to work with such as blocks, puzzles, beads, etc. When you are working with a kinesthetic learner let them move around the class room, tap their foot, move their hands, trace letters in sand, and even walk while they memorize or read. They need to be given every opportunity to move, because it will not only help them to retain the information, it will make it stay with them. When you are in a situation where you want to demonstrate something, let the kinesthetic learner try it along with you rather than just showing them. A home school environment may be a great place for a kinesthetic learner because they will have more freedom to move.

Other Learning Theories: There are many other theories about learning styles, such as multiple intelligence theory, etc. and chances are that you will be able to find a something that closely matches your child's style of learning. This is something that should be looked at before you choose any curriculum-because if the curriculum does not fit the child, it will not give them the benefits that you are hoping to achieve through the home schooling process. You may be able to adapt your curriculum to meet your child's needs or to meet the needs of more than one child, and knowing the learning style will be of great benefit in this process as well.
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