How Does Your Child Learn?

by April Low

I had been home-schooling for five years and successfully taught two of my children in maths. But when it came to teaching my third child, aged eight, why was each maths lesson ending in tears? Either he was crying or I was! This was exactly the same curriculum that I had used with my other son and daughter, so shouldn't it work for this child as well?

I began asking other home-educators and reading articles, trying to get any information that I could that might help us in our dilemma. I came across some very helpful information about learning styles. From what I understand, there are three basic styles.

Audio Learner

This type of learner enjoys having stories read to him. He can easily memorize words to songs by just listening to the song. You can explain new maths concepts to him without really writing anything down. Just tell him how to spell a word and he has no problem spelling that word again. Adults in this category can sit and listen to a sermon or lecture and retain quite a bit of what has been taught.

Visual Learner

This learner must see it. Fuller understanding comes if they can see the lesson on the blackboard or if they can follow along in the textbook. This person remembers things in mental pictures. He can always remember someone's face, even if he has met them only briefly. Adults with this learning style get far more out of a sermon if visual aids are used, or if they take notes.

Hands-On Learner

He's great at working with his hands. He loves to discover by exploring or by doing. History comes alive to this child if he can dress up and act out the story. Science can be his strength if it is hands-on, and not just regurgitating a textbook full of facts.

Bear in mind that God has created us in a very complex manner. We all learn in all three of these ways. But if you watch your children carefully and ask God to give you insight, I believe you will begin to see what their most natural learning style is. My first son is very strong in audio learning, then after that visual learning. This does not mean that he is not a hands-on learner at all. In fact, he enjoys making models and helping his dad in construction projects. My second son is a different story, and that is why textbook maths did not work for him. His primary avenue of learning is through his hands. He loves to discover on his own by role-playing or by using manipulatives. It is hard to find a curriculum written for this type of learner. We should begin teaching in a manner adapted to our child's strongest learning style, but as time passes our goal is to make them strong learners in all three learning styles.

Can you see how hard it is for a teacher in a classroom of twenty to thirty children to try to teach each child according to their specific needs and styles? Impossible! This is the greatest privilege we all have in teaching our own children. Our children are a gift from God. Our quiver is full (Ps. 127:3-5). But each one of us knows exactly how each of our arrows is shaped. No-one knows their emotional, spiritual or physical needs (or learning styles) better than we, their God-fearing parents, do.

A curriculum publisher that I have come to love and appreciate is `The Cornerstone Curriculum Project'. I have found their products very good for all learning styles, especially hands-on learners. They have written material which includes `Making Math Meaningful', `Science: The Search', `Music and Moments with the Masters' and `Adventures in Art'. I had the opportunity to meet the author, David Quine, and one of his nine home-schooled children at a home educators conference in the U.S. Besides having credentials, this man is full of integrity and wants to make available to home-schoolers a curriculum which is far more than just textbooks. If you would like to receive their catalogue or would like to comment on this article, feel free to write to me. Alternatively, you could contact Cornerstone directly at The Cornerstone Curriculum Project, 2006 Flat Creek Place, Richardson, Texas 75080, U.S.A. Their phone number is +1 214 235 5149. The time difference is six hours.

Copyright © Family Matters 1996

April Low and her family are Canadians who lived in Texas for eight years before moving to Scotland.