Several months ago, I took a learning styles test. The purpose of the test was to discover my child’s learning style. But, I didn’t realize until I took the test that I also needed to discover my learning style. My daughter is a kinesthetic learner (tactile learner). She needs to physically interact with objects to learn about them. The trouble is that so much of public school is created for the visual learner. When she was in school, there were too many times during the day when she had to sit still and listen. If her mind didn’t wonder off (which is usually did) then she had to complete an assignment that had either been written on the board or verbally explained by the teacher. Needless to say, things did not go too well in first grade for her.
For second grade I homeschooled my daughter. I knew nothing about learning styles. I discovered, really with the help of my husband, that she learns best when she is touching things, or singing songs, or dancing. Preferably all three! When we first started, I immediately ran out and bought what I thought were all the best curriculum packages. Well, many of these packages were well organized, but they were much more useful for the visual learner. With time I learned to augment all aspects of the curriculum to include something physical to touch. We learned place value with blocks, we learned multiplication by singing with a little movement, we reviewed addition and subtraction with 3×5 cards and eraser toys. Actually, all aspects of math include games for my daughter.
So, what were the hiccups? All issues really had to to with me. The learning styles test revealed that I am a visual learner! My learning style is so different from my daughter’s. She is a strong tactile learner and I am a strong visual learner. I have a lot of trouble even understanding that my little tactile learner is simply not going to get things the same way I do. For some reason, my husband got it and I frequently use him as my sounding board now. I frequently have to slow myself down and rethink. I say many times during the week, “How can I make this into a game?”
I’ve also discovered that the buddy method of teaching works really well with my daughter. She likes to play games with someone else, although she will play some iPad games by herself. These games work best if we take turns answering questions. She is quite competitive and likes to really pay attention to my problem solving to see if I’ve made a mistake. This is great because she learns when I answer questions as well as when she answers questions.