You may have read the interview with Jill Champagne that I posted concerning figuring out your children. We are all so complex, so it is hard to put a “label” on our children. While I am not saying we can lump everyone into a category, I do think there are three broad categories that we can say people learn best. If we can see what learning style best fits our children, this will help in the way that we teach our students. If I were to teach you something brand new, how would you prefer I go about doing it? Would you like me to tell you, show you, or would you like to be “hands-on”? The three categories are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.
Auditory students are those who prefer you to give them verbal instructions rather than showing them how to do it. I used to get upset with my oldest son when I would want to show him something and he would say’ “Just tell me how to do it, Mom. I can figure it out myself.” When I realized he learned best through verbal instruction I was able to relax and teach more that way for him. Students who are auditory like to have stories read aloud to them, and enjoy hearing lectures such as podcasts. They are the students who could listen to you read Story of the World for hours if you had the time! Sonlight would be a great fit for an auditory student since many of their stories are Read-Alouds. These scholars also learn from songs that and rhythms. Ian learned his multiplication tables through song and he says he still hears them in his head when he is trying to think of a certain product.
Visual students enjoy brightly colored textbooks, videos, and video games. Students that are able to best learn from this modality would do well with online courses or distance learning that both Bob Jones and ABeka offer. Other curricula to consider are: Teaching Textbooks, and science or history videos and computer games. Now, I am not saying all their schoolwork should be spent playing video games, but there are some terrific programs that I think are beneficial.
Kinesthetic students get in there and want to experience what you are teaching. Math-U-See is great for students because they can manipulate the pieces and understand what is being taught. If you have a younger student using items such as: counting bears, blocks, beads or pretzel rods (yum!) helps them learn. Lapbooks and unit studies with projects and curriculum such as Weaver and Heart of Dakota are great for students who need to be physically involved with learning.
Of course, each one of us does not learn solely through one means. I think the ideal way to learn is by using all of these in combination. Some subjects and new concepts lend themselves more easily to one way to teach better than another. But, if you are aware that your child learns the best from one of these ways of presenting information over another, use that style as much as you possibly can. Teach to your student’s strengths and help them develop in areas where they are weak.