When choosing a homeschool curriculum, many parents seek recommendations from friends without stopping to consider their child's learning style.
Learning styles, or learning modalities, describe a child's dominant mode of receiving, processing and retaining information. The three learning styles are auditory, visual and kinesthetic (or tactile). Children who are auditory learn by speaking or listening. Children who are visual learn by seeing or making mental pictures. Children who are kinesthetic learn through movement or touch.
By understanding your child's primary learning style, you can choose a curriculum that capitalizes on your child's strengths and compensates for weaknesses.
Auditory learners receive, process and retain information by listening or talking. They tend to be vocal and generally enjoy music, instruments, story telling, read alouds and audiobooks. These children may prefer group discussions and oral drill to independent study.
Your child may be an auditory learner if he or she:
- expresses emotion by changing his or her tone of voice,
- enjoys hobbies that involve speech or sound,
- asks questions when encountering something new,
- speaks freely in group settings, and
- solves problems and communicates through conversation.
When learning, auditory children may need to move their lips while reading, repeat directions aloud, or say the answers as they write them. These children may also need to hum or whistle to themselves in order to concentrate. When trying to figure out whether or not an answer is correct, auditory learners may ask themselves, “Does it sound right?"
When choosing a homeschool curriculum for an auditory learner, look for programs that involve reading aloud or group discussion. Unit studies, classical education or the Charlotte Mason method may work well for auditory processors.
Visual learners receive, process and retain information through sight or by making mental images. These children may think in print, through reading and writing, or in images like drawings, charts, maps and graphs.
Visual learners may favor neatness and organization. They tend to like like reading, math, art, television and computer games. They easily notice similarities and differences, and are good at memorizing the written word.
Your child may be a visual learner if he or she:
- expresses emotion through facial expression,
- enjoys hobbies that involve print or images,
- spends a great deal of time examining when encountering something new,
- watches before participating in group settings, and
- looks for visual clues when solving problems.
When learning, visual learners may need to take notes, highlight information, or make outlines and diagrams. They tend to more readily understand written as opposed to oral instruction. When trying to figure out whether or not an answer is correct, visual learners may ask themselves, “Does it look right?"
Visual processors may enjoy worksheets and can typically handle a traditional textbook or classical program. Children who love books may enjoy a literature based program. Those who enjoy computers may thrive on a computer based homeschooling curriculum.
Kinesthetic learners receive, process and retain information through movement or touch. They thrive on physical activity or hands on projects. They more readily remember information that is associated with an activity.
Your child may be a kinesthetic learner if he or she:
- expresses emotion through body language,
- enjoys hobbies that involve touch or movement,
- uses the sense of touch when encountering something new,
- encourages movement in group settings, and
- uses gestures to communicate.
When learning, kinesthetic learners may need to use manipulatives or construct models to enhance understanding. These children may find it helpful to rock or sit on a bouncy ball while listening to lectures or completing assignments. They may memorize information more easily while bouncing a ball, swinging or jumping on a trampoline.
Kinesthetic processors tend to have the most trouble with traditional classroom education. The best homeschool curriculum for these children is on that involves projects, experiments and models, such as Montessori homeschooling or unit study program.
Determining Your Child's Learning Style
Spend time observing your child to determine his or her learning style, and don't be afraid to ask how he or she prefers to learn. It may take a bit of experimentation to find the best homeschooling curriculum, but by understanding your child's learning style, you are taking a step in the right direction.
Here are some additional tips on teaching to your child's learning style , along with a description of different homeschooling methods .
Carletta Sanders is a homeschool mom of 3 and creator of the website, Successful Homeschooling.