Ultimately, many parents bring home, the very elements of the educational program that have caused their children to struggle in school. Why? There are a number of possibilities:
For one, parents feel more secure in duplicating the “experts.” School has been the predominate form of education in our country for so long that we are afraid that we are going to miss something important. Remembering why you decided to homeschool and what is important to you guards against this problem. Also, keep in mind that there are almost as many ways of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. Your goal should be to find a balance between setting up a school classroom in your home and unschooling. The right answer for your family may be different from other homeschooling families you may know.
Whether you are a veteran homeschooler or are preparing for your first year, you will want to do some evaluating before you start purchasing curriculum. You should consider your own learning style and that of each or your children. Discovering how you and your child learn is essential in the teaching process. Am I saying that you should only teach to your child’s preferred learning style? NO! However, if your child is struggling, you should teach difficult areas using his or her style. In other areas, the child should use other styles. If this plan does not result in success, you need to seek other advice.
You may be confused about learning styles. Some talk about whether they are right brain or left brain. Others, being random or sequential. Are you visual, auditory or kinesthetic? Then, There are seven (now more) kinds of intelligences.
Each of these approaches is helpful to some people. Cynthia Tobias has done a good job of putting them all into perspective in her book: The Way They Learn. Most of the book deals with four dominant learning styles: concrete sequential, abstract sequential, abstract random, and concrete random. Then she uses Gregoric’s work on mind styles to describe how we concentrate. Dunn and Dunn’s work on environmental preferences help us design an ideal study area. Barbe-Swassing’s works on the modalities (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) explain how we remember. We understand analytically or globally according to Witkin. She also summarizes Gardener and Armstrong’s Seven Intelligences. Dr. Gardner has added more since coming out with the original seven. Tobias puts it together in a chapter near the end of the book. Monitor yourselves as you go through the five stages that Tobias outlines in chapter 11 of her book. No one is just one learning style. We are individuals! When we understand ourselves, we can use learning styles to learn things that are difficult, understand others and be encouraged when we are forced to work in an area that is not our strength.
Understanding your child’s learning style as well as your own can make a real difference in your learning environment. You may save some grief in the learning process, help to avoid homeschool burnout, and save some money by not purchasing curriculum that does not satisfy your learning objectives.
Books to Read on Learning Styles available on http://www.amazon.com or your public library:
Armstrong, Thomas, In Their Own Way
Tobias, Cynthia Ulrich, The Way They Learn. Focus on the Family Publishing, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1994.
Vitalle, Barbara Meister, Unicorns are Real. Jalmer Press, Rolling Hills Estates, California, 1982.
This is a good beginning. You will eliminate many struggles in this way Once this has been applied, many will find their struggles are not such a big deal anymore.