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balancing multiple children's learning styles and your teaching style


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If I remember right (which is always iffy:lol: ), I've asked a similar question before, wondering how to balance the way you teach with the way your children learn. And I think that's what the main consensus was - it's all a balance.

 

I've been thinking more about this, and one thing I've noticed is that the way my kids learn best is what I absolutely hate the most.:001_huh: They would all do great with tons of hands-on stuff, I think. The less reading the better. Definitely no audio stuff like CDs. Videos would be good, provided they are stimulating enough.

 

However, I am more of the "the more books the better" type. Sonlight would have been THE PERFECT curriculum for me as a child.;) I loathe hands-on stuff. And really even teaching now, I still hate it. (And for some reason my mother keeps sending my kids crafts that require my involvement - ack!) And now that I have a newborn that I'm having to deal with (and a VERY busy 2yo), hands-on stuff is the absolutely LAST thing that I want to do. Can't we just sit around and read books???:D

 

Yet my children don't learn nearly as well from just books. My oldest in particular has comprehension issues, so his reading/hearing things read problem gets in the way of learning other things when we just use books.

 

SURELY I'm not the only one who has struggled with hating to teach in the way that is the best for my children's learning style???? How have y'all balanced this?:confused:

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:grouphug:

 

I hate crafts with heavy parent involvement, too! But, my daughter will work for crafts. We just got La Clase Divertida, she did 3 hours of Spanish yesterday, the deal I made is, you get the vocab from the lesson memorized perfectly and you get to do the craft, I was almost regretting my promise, but luckily the first 3 were only minor parent involvement.

 

I have a friend with 7 who loves reading, her children all love workbooks! She gives them workbooks for some subjects but does TOG. (Some of hers are readers, but they are all workbook lovers, which she can't stand but she gives them out anyway.)

 

With my daughter, I've recently started reading books like this:

 

I read a line or two here and there aloud, but mostly I read silently and then ask her a question that she gets to guess the answer to, if she's right I'll either say right or agree but then elaborate. For example, I read a dry book about Gutenberg, but asked her questions in engaging ways. "How long ago do you think the printing press was invented? How many years do you think it took to copy the Bible by hand when that was how they had to make books?" (Her guess--1 year. Actual answer--7 years!) Sometimes, a statement then a question: "Gutenberg made 300 copies of the Bible. How many of these do you think are still around today?" She also got to guess things like where he was born and lived and what language was the Gutenberg bible printed in. Her guesses were sometimes funny, but sometimes better than mine would have been!

 

This might be a good way to make reading aloud work for you and your children.

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With my daughter, I've recently started reading books like this:

 

I read a line or two here and there aloud, but mostly I read silently and then ask her a question that she gets to guess the answer to, if she's right I'll either say right or agree but then elaborate. For example, I read a dry book about Gutenberg, but asked her questions in engaging ways. "How long ago do you think the printing press was invented? How many years do you think it took to copy the Bible by hand when that was how they had to make books?" (Her guess--1 year. Actual answer--7 years!) Sometimes, a statement then a question: "Gutenberg made 300 copies of the Bible. How many of these do you think are still around today?" She also got to guess things like where he was born and lived and what language was the Gutenberg bible printed in. Her guesses were sometimes funny, but sometimes better than mine would have been!

 

This might be a good way to make reading aloud work for you and your children.

 

This sounds like such a great idea! We use oral narration a lot, and adding these more fun and speculative kinds of questions to it could really make it more engaging. Thanks for mentioning this.

 

To the OP, I'm not much for hands-on projects either. I do try to work in some, but it seems that while they are really fun for my daughter, and she would do that sort of stuff all day long if I would let her, they haven't actually been tremendously successful teaching tools. Not saying that's necessarily true of your son, just sharing my experience.

 

I guess I'm just "old school", but I think that the ability to comprehend information in a book or in a lecture is hugely important, and it's not something that I personally would dismiss as a learning style issue. In my opinion, it's not a talent that you either have or don't have, it is a skill that is developed through practice.

 

Oral narration has helped my daughter improve her listening skills *tremendously*! Start small, or break up longer reading passages into shorter sections. You can have your youngest child narrate first, then the next one up has to add something. You can find lots of information about narration techniques in all the various Charlotte Mason websites and books.

 

And breaking up still, sitting time with short bursts of physical activity really helps her too. She takes taekwondo, so for our school breaks, I will have her practice her forms or do her fitness routine (push-ups, squat-thrusts and such). It has really helped her focus!

 

Not sure if this helps or applies to your situation, but that's what has worked for us.

 

ETA: I just remembered the obvious, glaring exception to what I just said. My daughter learned math very well through hands-on methods like card games and manipulatives. We used RightStart and it was wonderful. She is now ready for more traditional "book work" type math, but I think these hands-on experiences gave her a great foundation. Our other attempts at hands-on learning, however, were a lot of work, and a lot of time invested, with virtually no results. Obviously, YMMV.

Edited by GretaLynne
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I actually think most kids gravitate towards experiential, hands-on learning for a number of years, which may be why many philosophies of education make some kind of demarcation at around age 8-11, depending on the philosophy. After this point kids seem more ready (note, not entirely) to transition to more formal, structured, paper-based learning.

 

My daughter had multiple problems with eye coordination and focus, plus fine motor problems, so I had to adjust to her style. Like you, I found myself in the position of teaching a child with radically different preferences from my own. I'm totally a textual learner by choice; she's auditory and hands-on. She loves books and reading but it took years of vision therapy for her to develop the stamina to be an independent reader despite a college-level vocabulary.

 

What I found was interesting, though. By mixing a bunch of different ways to approach a subject, be it math or science or literature, I found that I myself was actually beginning to learn and understand better, on a different conceptual level than I had going through my own, exclusively book-based education. Plus when I worked in a co-op with a bunch of kids, everybody became involved because some part of the day utilized their own preferences (mostly hands-on, but a couple of really strong visual learners, and then my auditory daughter). It is now wonderful to be able to use so many different formats and materials -- my daughter is nearly 14 -- but man alive, was it hard breaking out of my book world and learning to do it different ways! I knew I was book dependent but I would have sworn an oath that my learning and conceptual understanding was much better than I have found it actually is. It came as quite a shock to me.

 

By the way, hands-on does not have to mean gritting your teeth and tolerating a room full of craft projects or kids glued to the screen. I sympathize with you 100% there. And it doesn't mean leaving books by the wayside. But there are some good computer games (Carmen Sandiego for geography, for example), some great DVDs, maps, puzzles, science kits, etc. Enough to mix it up.

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I guess I'm just "old school", but I think that the ability to comprehend information in a book or in a lecture is hugely important, and it's not something that I personally would dismiss as a learning style issue. In my opinion, it's not a talent that you either have or don't have, it is a skill that is developed through practice.

 

 

:iagree:

 

It is a skill and is very important for the rest of their lives. I leave my kids plenty of time during the day to do crafty things and hands-on things. I keep school time focused on learning the skills and give them time, materials, and support to follow their interests after school.

 

What follows is a dissenting opinion on learning style centered teaching.

 

This could be because I am extremely non-artistic and my first two students have been very artistic. My attempts at adding this type of element were always well below their ability and interest. They have fared much better doing arts, crafts and other diversions outside of my teaching.

 

I try to keep them engaged and interested, but my oldest has lobbied hard against making school fun. His view is that kids should learn because the material or the skill is worthwhile to learn. I should spend my time educating them not entertaining them. If I put on clown pants and told grammar jokes or did a multiplication puppet show or spent twenty hours making a replica of the Mayflower, I have wasted everyones time.

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Thanks for all of the ideas and suggestions!:D

 

I do want to clarify, with my oldest son I know that his comprehension issues are not a learning style. He has something going wrong in his brain somehow, and I have absolutely no idea what to do about it, where to go for help, etc. It's been VERY frustrating, to say the least. Especially since he seems to be getting to where he's hitting a brick wall of sorts with his learning. Sigh.

 

So for him I'd love to be able to find something to help him learn while I try to figure out 1) just what is wrong with him, and 2) how to help him overcome it. I'd hate for all of his learning about other things to have to be put on hold while we figure it all out.

 

Keep the ideas coming - they are helping I think!

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My opinion is, that as important as learning styles are, it is MORE important to teach to your teaching style. Just for the simple reason that it gets DONE. A mom with several children only has so much time and focus. Tweak things to their style where you can, but don't get bent out of shape about it. As PP's mentioned, at some point kids have to buckle down and gain the skills needed for learning. When you think of the brilliant minds of the past, (founding fathers for instance) you can't help but notice how dry the schools were that they went to. In other words, they didn't necessarily get learning-style-centered teaching.

 

I also dislike doing most activities. What works best here is finding stuff they can do themselves. DS is doing some fun things with La Clase Divertida-- since the instruction is on the video and the materials are all in the kit. :D

 

I hope you can find some answers for your son. I'm sure there's a solution out there somewhere. :grouphug:

Edited by birchbark
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About the comprehension: ask your pediatrician for a recommendation or two and a referral to someone who can help, or request an evaluation through your local school district, whichever you feel most comfortable with. These are both low-cost ways to go. If you have the money, you can look into private evaluations from a learning specialist or neuropsychologist (which is what we had done with our daughter). These are far more extensive and give you a clear breakdown of specific ways in which comprehension is or is not taking place: they can pinpoint the neurological problem and then recommend what to do about it.

 

You sound fairly sure that this is not a learning style matter but something deeper; as your son is 12, I'd move to find out one way or the other while you still have time with him at home to explore any recommendations you end up getting. (It must be frustrating for him too, and he's probably old enough to realize that something isn't working right.)

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There. I said it. Well, actually I don't HATE crafts, I just don't like doing them with multiple small children. All that bending and crouching and snipping and tracing and gluing. :tongue_smilie:My children? They LOVE crafts, of course. However, I do have my own creative streak. I do understand the lure of glitter and glue. I do enjoy making my own creations. I just don't like pulling this stuff out if it's going to involve all three children clamoring for me at the same time, a big mess to clean up, and lots of "projects" that I'm expected to somehow display in our small house.

 

So, they love doing crafts and painting and so on. I think, that's all well and good, but I'm not really sure what they learn from all that messiness. We do it to have fun. But I don't consider it a natural fit for my "teaching style!" :001_smile:

 

What's my teaching style? I don't know... Efficient Drill Sergeant, Snuggly Storyteller. IMO, the skills of the 3 Rs are best developed in brief, daily, incremental sessions. Paper and a pencil. Copywork. A phonics primer. Letter tiles. Math manipulatives. That's called seat work, it's short and to the point, and it gets the job done.

 

Understanding and application of content -- Bible, Theology, Music, Literature & Poetry, Geography & History, Science & Health -- come from reading, discussing, doing, and getting out the door. Here there is room for field trips, journals, crafts, and projects. For some students, there is a need for them. What matters is that the project is doable (for them, for me), valuable (has true learning potential), and enjoyable (otherwise, I'll just read to them, it's so much easier for me). ;) We do enjoy our daily Read Aloud times, though. That's the Snuggly Storyteller in me!

 

I want my children to have fun. I also want them to learn. Even at this early stage I can see that my children have different learning styles, so of course I need to keep this in mind. But I think it's important to teach in ways that are authentic and natural to the teacher, not contrived or acted out. My children will know if I'm not being authentic, and they'll think I'm just being weird. :D The goal is to work towards the intersection of their learning style and enjoyment with my teaching style and enjoyment. That's the joy of learning and the joy of teaching.

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I don't think it has to be an either/or situation. Nor do I believe that kids need crafty hands on projects to learn/retain information for the long term.

 

I really try to work with my children in such a way that is engaging for them but not burdensome on me. Creating assignments that they find intriguing yet hold high educational value are the "bang for the buck" approach I use. The assignments aren't the same for my different kids (even when they were the same ages). I tailor them to the child.

 

Some examples for history, as well as writing, would be creating and illustrating a newspaper, compiling a diary, writing a play, etc. They can design games like Trivia Pursuit where they write the questions and answers or create new games like Risk or Axis and Allies with the people/geographic region they are studying, etc.

 

For science (and again, writing as well.....I teach across subjects so these assignments serve double duty) they can create a chapter book by writing short reports and illustrating topics and putting them all together with a cover, table of contents, etc. (I treasure some of these that my kids have done. One ds did one on the planets, another one did one on dinosaurs, etc)

 

I try to generate ideas that play on my kids' strengths while working on their weaknesses. But like you, I cannot make anything overly burdensome on me b/c I just don't have the time. (I detest crafts that I need to be involved in. They can have at it all they want on their own, though!)

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My opinion is, that as important as learning styles are, it is MORE important to teach to your teaching style. Just for the simple reason that it gets DONE.

 

This is it EXACTLY.

 

About the comprehension: ask your pediatrician for a recommendation or two and a referral to someone who can help,

 

BTDT...he was of no help whatsoever. Even though I had specifically said that I don't think my son has ADHD, the dr. was like, "Well he doesn't have ADHD [well duh] and then gave me the name and number of an ADHD specialist within the local school district.:001_huh: I called just for grins and had to leave a message. Never heard back.

 

I've tried contacting the local university hospital (or maybe it was children's...can't remember now) for the department I thought might be able to help. Got nowhere there too.

 

If you have the money, you can look into private evaluations from a learning specialist or neuropsychologist (which is what we had done with our daughter). These are far more extensive and give you a clear breakdown of specific ways in which comprehension is or is not taking place: they can pinpoint the neurological problem and then recommend what to do about it.

 

And then we come upon the 2nd barrier: my dh, who believes that ds's issues are either attitude or how he is being taught.:001_huh: (Nevermind that these are not solely academic issues. My ds cannot follow conversations IRL very well either.) So paying out the nose for something is probably out of the question as well. I have been pondering seeing if dh would agree to taking ds to see Dianne Craft, since she is only about 30 minutes away from me.

 

You sound fairly sure that this is not a learning style matter but something deeper; as your son is 12, I'd move to find out one way or the other while you still have time with him at home to explore any recommendations you end up getting. (It must be frustrating for him too, and he's probably old enough to realize that something isn't working right.)

 

I agree TOTALLY.

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I haven't read all the responses... I know I may be unpopular with this thought, but here goes. I think your teaching should be more based on what you can teach vs how your child learns. Unless you are dealing with LD's (a whole other camp) I think you will go crazy trying to bend everything to every child's preference. I am coming to grips with the fact that I am in this for the long haul. I have 4 children to successfully educate. I can't burn out. I can't do something I hate for the next ____ years. If my children have to learn something in a way that's not their preference... tough. (I know that sounds harsh.)

 

Now, I will make allowances here or there. I will adapt simple things as needed, but I will not run myself ragged teaching 4 different curriculum or doing things that I hate. The world around us does not adapt to us... we need to adapt. I would like to teach my children when they are young that they cannot always have things the way they want it. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and get 'er done.

 

I pick the curriculum I want to teach that I believe will help me bring the desired outcomes to our schooling. I do take my childrens' style somewhat into consideration, but my ability/desire to teach the curriculum comes first.

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I haven't read all the responses... I know I may be unpopular with this thought, but here goes. I think your teaching should be more based on what you can teach vs how your child learns. Unless you are dealing with LD's (a whole other camp) I think you will go crazy trying to bend everything to every child's preference. I am coming to grips with the fact that I am in this for the long haul. I have 4 children to successfully educate. I can't burn out. I can't do something I hate for the next ____ years. If my children have to learn something in a way that's not their preference... tough. (I know that sounds harsh.)

 

Now, I will make allowances here or there. I will adapt simple things as needed, but I will not run myself ragged teaching 4 different curriculum or doing things that I hate. The world around us does not adapt to us... we need to adapt. I would like to teach my children when they are young that they cannot always have things the way they want it. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and get 'er done.

 

I pick the curriculum I want to teach that I believe will help me bring the desired outcomes to our schooling. I do take my childrens' style somewhat into consideration, but my ability/desire to teach the curriculum comes first.

 

Honestly this is what I lean toward. I think maybe I was wanting "permission" to do it?:confused: I'm not sure if would necessarily change much of what we're doing, but at least maybe I won't feel so guilty for basically saying, "Deal with it," if it's not their "favorite.":blushing: I too have often thought about how dry and "boring" school was 150 years ago, and yet golly gee, the kids learned anyway. Hmmmmmmmm.;)

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Honestly this is what I lean toward. I think maybe I was wanting "permission" to do it?:confused: I'm not sure if would necessarily change much of what we're doing, but at least maybe I won't feel so guilty for basically saying, "Deal with it," if it's not their "favorite.":blushing: I too have often thought about how dry and "boring" school was 150 years ago, and yet golly gee, the kids learned anyway. Hmmmmmmmm.;)

 

I think we have to remember also, that because we homeschool our kids have ample opportunity to play and have fun. (That is unless you overschedule your children). We spend a few hours on school, then really... once their chores and piano practicing is done... they have the entire rest of the day! We don't have many evening commitments and NO HOMEWORK!! So... if the "fun" doesn't happen during school, I'm okay with that. They make up plenty of their own (which I think is much better than planned fun anyway!).

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I think we have to remember also, that because we homeschool our kids have ample opportunity to play and have fun. (That is unless you overschedule your children). We spend a few hours on school, then really... once their chores and piano practicing is done... they have the entire rest of the day! We don't have many evening commitments and NO HOMEWORK!! So... if the "fun" doesn't happen during school, I'm okay with that. They make up plenty of their own (which I think is much better than planned fun anyway!).

 

Well, my oldest does about 6ish hours of school per day, so he doesn't have as much free time, but you are absolutely right. And actually, when school takes longer than it should and goes into their free time, that's their own fault for dilly-dallying. I do have to hound them to play though. It's very annoying.

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