Conquering the wandering mind of a child in order to keep them on task is a challenging, and sometimes unpleasant, task for many parents. But the lack of knowledge about how that child processes and retains information can actually cause the problem and create frustration.
Many first-time homeschool families may not realize that each child has a unique method of learning. A child who learns best by verbal interaction will struggle with getting through handwritten activities. A child who thrives on experimentation and hands-on activities will gain very little, if anything, from a teaching lecture. Trying to teach in a style that is contrary to how the child learns can hinder their educational process and overall experience.
The results of teaching with a style contrary to a child's learning style include an unfocused and disinterested student, and a fed up parent. The solution is to take the time to identify the child's learning style and then teach accordingly.
The Institute for Learning Styles Research (ILSR), based in Maryville, Tennessee, has compiled extensive research in the area of learning and teaching. Their intent is to connect the various learning styles to appropriate teaching methods. The ILSR indicates that there are seven specific ways that humans perceive information. All of these methods can be easily grouped into three main categories: auditory, kinesthetic and visual.
Auditory Learning Style
The auditory learners retain information by listening, and will often repeat back what they have heard. Among others, they do well with resources like lectures and audio books. Auditory learners enjoy plays, speeches and the sound of their own voice. They often hum or talk to themselves or others to stimulate their mind. They have a difficult time comprehending written material without some sort of sound in the background. They benefit greatly by reading and/or studying while listening to music.
Kinesthetic Learning Style
The kinesthetic learner can be a very challenging student for homeschooling parents. These are the students who move and groove on a constant basis. They learn best through hands-on activities. They are incredibly creative inventors, builders and engineers. They discover ways to manipulate objects out of sheer curiosity. Electronics kits, chemistry sets, microscope equipment and LEGOs are all excellent learning tools for this group.
Kinesthetic learners often do not think before acting, as the discovery takes place in the doing. They do not respond well to visual or auditory instruction because of the lack of physical response required. They will often fidget or find an excuse to move around in order to stay focused. They will frequently move their hands by either tapping their pencil or doodling while concentrating, or using gestures while talking.
Visual Learning Style
These students are often called the "bookworms." They learn best by seeing or writing information. They love to read, and can easily retain and recall what is read. They often take notes and do well with writing projects. Visual learners enjoy watching presentations, slide shows, television shows and movies. Things like pictures, graphs, maps and step-by-step illustrations within textbooks can greatly enhance their learning experience. Because this group tends to have vivid imaginations, visual learners can be prone to daydreaming. Their attention can be best kept by watching something. They are often quiet students; they stare rather than talk at length.
If a homeschooling parent is sensitive to how their child processes information, they won't be frustrated with what seems like bizarre behaviors. They will understand why it is best that their child stop and study pictures when they read out loud. A homeschooling parent will discover why their child finds great satisfaction in constructing a robot suit out of cardboard boxes and duct tape. It can also justify their child's need to talk a lot, repeating everything they are learning.
Certain behaviors can be bothersome or irritating to the homeschooling parent who has not yet been introduced to the concept of learning styles, especially if that style is contrary to the person doing the teaching. But parents who understand these behaviors are mere expressions of their child's God-created individuality.
References: learningstyles.org: wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles