Would you expect a child who has a profound vision loss to obtain information only by reading and looking at pictures?
Of course you wouldn’t. In the last couple of decades, we have learned so much about how people learn and how the brains of different individuals actually processes information and learns. Because not everyone learns in the same way, we can tailor our teaching methods to each particular learner. With hundreds of kids this can seem daunting, but when teaching your own children, you are working with fewer students and can really approach each child through his or her strengths.
Among the major learning styles are:
Visual– Most people learn through visual input. Our brains are largely tuned to process visual information that we receive on a daily basis. Reading, examining charts, driving, riding a bike are all activities where we receive visual input.
Auditory– Some learners remember what they hear better and more rapidly than what they see. These learners love books on tape, listening to music, going to plays or movies and other multimedia events. Often these students do well repeating what the teacher has said (to help set the information in memory), singing or rapping materials (facts, multiplication tables, etc). Sometimes, these students play an instrument or sing well. Encouraging these students to read aloud to themselves often helps retention.
Kinetic/kinesthetic–have you ever noticed that toddlers love to sing songs with lots of motions attached to them? Movement and muscle memory can play a part in making learning stick into the long term memory. Some, but not all, really fidgety kids fall into this category. These kids excel when moving while reciting information. My oldest son learned spelling words while we marched around the house! The marching set a rhythm that helped him to remember things more readily. He didn’t always need to use this technique, but it helped for a couple of years while he learned “how” to learn spelling words. Hands on activities and crafts that are directly related to a lesson work well for this learning style. Science labs are great, also.
Please note that with the exception of having a profound sensory loss (deafness, blindness, immobility), everyone has the ability to learn through these avenues. However, we all have a preference as to how we receive information and how it is easiest for us to learn. When you figure out how your child learns easiest, you can rely a bit more heavily on that method of presenting information, while still including the other two.
Multiple Intelligences: In the 1980s, Howard Gardner began to look at how the individual learner actually processed information. What he developed from his research is a scale of “intelligences” that everyone has to some degree or another. These multiple intelligences and their various strengths and weaknesses in each student help us to understand how he/she processes information and puts it into long term memory (which is the ultimate goal in teaching and learning). If you would like a much better explanation of multiple intelligences than I can provide, click here for a great overview.
Linguistic— the ability to use words to communicate.
Logical/Mathematical— the ability to use logic and mathematics.
Spatial— the ability to understand and use the knowledge of how one “fits” in the world and the space around an object.
Bodily/Kinesthetic— the ability to use one’s hands or whole body to express themselves.
Musical— the ability to use music to express themselves. Also, can discriminate between types readily.
Interpersonal— the ability to determine and ascertain the moods, feelings, and motivations of others.
Intrapersonal— the ability to know one’s self and to be able to use that information to adapt.
Naturalist-– the ability and understanding of the natural world and animal behavior.
Existential (or Spiritual)*– the ability to engage in and pursue the spiritual or mystical nature of man.
*this is currently being explored for becoming a full “intelligence” by Howard Gardner, originator of the Multiple Intelligences.
Now, everyone has all of the intelligences but most people are much stronger in one or two areas than in the others. Often, we can use one strength to help a student improve in another area. For example, my youngest son is the “Naturalist” to a T! He isn’t crazy about some of the other areas, but you can’t be a Naturalist inside, so he gets to work on his Spatial, Body/Kinesthetic, and sometimes Existential skills without any additional effort on his part. We could also read field guides to facilitate reading or books about adventures in the great out of doors. We can look at charts and graphs to explain migratory bird patterns, or frog habitats and work out the statistics to help with math skills. By linking ideas to what he is naturally strong at, he improves multiple areas at once, while enjoying the process. It is a totally win-win scenario!
This topic is so broad that there is no way that I can do it justice in a single blog post, but wonderful sites abound and can be accessed by a simple Google search.
How do you use brain based learning techniques in your homeschool?
For more on this series:
Why Homeschool? Academic Excellence
Why Homeschool? Appropriate Socialization
Why Homeschool? Child Led Learning
Why Homeschool? Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences
Why Hoemschool? Child Led Learning
Till next time,
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