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The Classroom of Babel - Learning Styles

Imagine you are a public-school teacher on the first day of class faced with 30 children, none of whom speak English. Worse yet, imagine that there were 3 unique languages spoken by the students with no language being spoken by more than a few students. How would you communicate? How would you teach?

More importantly, how would anyone learn?

You might think this illustration absurd but think about the differences in your own children. Our two boys are built so differently, Lee and I often wondered if one or possibly both were switched at birth. Everything about how they view life, friendships, work, and academics is different. And these two share the same DNA, parents and upbringing.

Now ask yourself: Wouldn't teaching 30 utterly unique souls be somewhat akin to teaching our imaginary multi-lingual classroom? In addition to normal crowd control, behavior modification and refereeing, you would need to somehow unlock the mystery of communication and inspiration for each child.

Speaking their Language

I believe that true learning will only happen for a child if they sit at the feet of someone who "speaks their language;" someone who has a deep love and commitment to their well-being.

Who is more qualified than you, the parents, to provide that environment?

You know your child the best. You know just how they like their breakfast in the morning, you know who their closest friends are, you know when they are overwhelmed and need some time for themselves. You know when they are frustrated with their schoolwork or their siblings. You know how they show and receive love. With some practice and careful attention, you can know their learning style, the subjects that are a breeze to them, and the ones that require a little more direction.
The point is that living things are not computer code and education is more than just "pouring information in." Being successful requires tremendous care and attention. Don't believe anyone who tells you homeschooling is easy. They are either deluded or selling you something. Homeschooling is hard, just like parenting is hard.

But homeschooling is important - just as important as parenting. Don't ever think you will be successful just because you are so very clever or so very educated. Ultimately, success will come because you love and understand your children enough to "speak their language."

That brings us to the ever-important question: What language do they speak?

The Learning Languages

It is typically agreed that there are 3-4 different learning languages, though some would argue there are many more. For simplicity, we will focus on the 3 most common learning styles. Understanding your child's preferred learning method will help you match curriculum to meet their needs, reduce frustration, and most importantly, help your child's comprehension and absorption of the material. The three most common learning languages are: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.

Visual learners are the students who learn and absorb material the best when they can see the information. Graphs, videos, bright colors, or reading textbooks are examples. Generally, these students don't retain information well if it is only said aloud. Teaching your visual child how to turn information into a graph or picture, how to color code their notes, or turn important phrases, dates, or names into symbols or initials will help them retain the information they are learning. A whiteboard or artist's sketchbook may be helpful tools for visual learners to visually process their thoughts.

Auditory learners are the students who learn best by listening to and speaking about the material. Lectures, videos, audio books, music, and having discussions about the information will usually be most helpful. These students generally learn best if they can repeat the information audibly, whether through conversation or just repeating it aloud to themselves. They will typically retain more information from an audiobook or recording than from reading silently. Joining a class with other students for conversation's sake or using a recording device to record lectures to revisit later will be the most helpful tools for auditory learners.

Kinesthetic learners are the students who learn best by experience or doing things. Creative activities will catapult them into learning. They would best understand how a clock works by dismantling it and then rebuilding it. A budding kinesthetic biologist might learn best by having a diverse garden to take care of as they go through the curriculum. Movement and touch translate to learning and absorption for these learners. Acting out a scene of a play, pacing to memorize information, hand-on science labs, and active games will be the best tools for kinesthetic learners.
As you observe your child and their learning style, adjust as needed to encourage deep and passionate learning. Look at my article for more information on passion-fueled learning. Delight Directed Learning.

Matt Binz

Mr. HomeScholar

"I just wanted you to know that while I have enjoyed your program very much, and that you have answered all of my transcript questions. I have 7 children and 5 of them still are waiting anxiously for their own graduation, so I will definitely remember you and what you have to offer, not to mention how much you have helped me already! I pray that the Lord continues to bless you and your family for your sincerity and willingness to give guidance and encouragement to others. With much gratefulness,"

~ Trish in Michigan

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Thursday, 23 May 2024

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