I recently read a story on Facebook about a mom who took her son shoe shopping. Her son had a club foot and this caused a big difference in shoe size between the left and the right foot. After shopping for a bit he finally found a pair of shoes he loved. However this meant that mom was going to need to buy two pairs of shoes in order for her son to have the most comfortable fit for each foot. One big size and one little size because he wouldn’t be able to wear the little shoe on his club foot as it would just be too tight and the likewise the big shoe wouldn’t fit correctly on his smaller foot. The manager realized the dilemma and he purchased one pair of shoes for the child. How great was this experience for this child? I bet he won’t forget this for a lifetime.
I just finished up one of the books I got from our first trip to the library. This book is by an author that I already have on my bookshelf at home and I was in love when the book started out with the comparison of schools to shoes. It is so very true… schools are like shoes in that there is not a ‘one size fits all’. I mean when we are shoe shopping we try on various different kinds of shoes, if you are like William you may try on every pair in the store, before finding the right shoe. I know I’ve found shoes I really like but they weren’t the right color or they didn’t have them in my size. Most of us will ultimately decide on the most comfortable fitting shoe because we can’t change our feet.
So why do we insist on sending our kids to school when something obviously isn’t fitting right? My kids have been through all of the stages of public school. They usually start out excited and they like to go to school to learn new things. Then somewhere along the line they lose that enthusiasm. They start complaining of tummy aches or other ailments. They go from making A’s and B’s to bringing home mostly D’s and F’s. What happened?
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Well, like everyone else your child is a unique individual. As mentioned in this book they were made by God to be a fearfully, wonderfully, complex individual. And so were there classmates and their teachers. Their differences may be seen as problems or limitations to some or they may just be plain frustrating to those who don’t understand what is going on.
This book takes the time to not only break down the different learning styles but also gives helpful suggestions for parents, teachers, and students. It also offers suggestions for homeschoolers as well. There is a section in the book that talks about deciding whether to homeschool your child or not also.
A lot goes into the way your child learns and retains information. The environment can affect your child in various ways including the time of day, the lighting, the comfort, and the temperature to name a few. Also rules such as No Food or Drinks can be game changers for some kids. Your child’s learning style as well as the teachers learning style will also come in to play with how your child learns and reacts to school. A lot of the suggestions in this book will depend on how flexible/acceptable to change your child’s teachers and schools are. I jotted down a ton of notes while reading and I’ll try to organize them a bit here for you.
What are the basic learning styles mentioned in the book?
There are five basic learning styles mentioned in this book. Here is a basic breakdown of the styles:
- Like to talk and/or make noise
- Need to hear themselves talk
- His/her noise does not bother them
- Can be easily distracted by other noises/voices
- May need to use headphones to help with focus and concentration
- Often daydreams
- Likes to doodle
- Benefits from the use of flash cards, charts, and diagrams
- Like bright colors
- Like lots of gizmos and gadgets
- Always moving in some way or another
- Love field trips where they can roam and explore
- May benefit from hand held fidgets, stress balls, or other devices
- Do not like being quite and/or sitting still
- May benefit from frequent, short breaks
- May help to combine learning with a physical activity. ex: practicing spelling words while shooting hoops or jumping on a trampoline.
- Need to see the ‘Big Picture’
- Need directions to be given with context and may need them repeated
- Can be quite messy
- Can be easily distracted
- Require constant supervision to get tasks completed
- May like to work with groups rather than independently
- Pay close attention to details
- Like step by step instructions
- Usually organized, prefer to work in uncluttered surroundings
- Thrive with structure and routine
- Like worksheets, charts and lists
- May prefer to work independently and without interruptions
So what does this mean for you and your child? Well, the book also give some simple little quizzes to help you decide how your child learns best and what their learning style is so that you can help them to succeed.
Using their learning style to help them succeed
One suggestion is to involve the student in helping to find ways to improve their learning environment. If, for instance, your child says she can work better while listening to her favorite band you can give her a chance to prove it. Let her wear headphones to listen but she must be able to prove that this benefits her work habits. If not, then another solution needs to be found.
Another suggestion I liked was when it comes to the organization of assignments. We probably all know that child who is constantly misplacing things or forgetting to turn them in. They may resist your efforts at helping them to organize but you can offer them a chance at finding an acceptable system. If they can find the items needed in 60 seconds or less then their way is acceptable, if not they need to work on finding another system.
Then we come to the homework section of the book. The author explains the need for helping children to identify the purpose of homework. Also she suggests letting the child help to design an acceptable study space. Now I think this is a great idea but in our house space is limited so the kids may have a little say but there isn’t a lot we can do to design anything at the moment.
She also suggests asking the child if they want homework reminders, when, and how often. As well as when they want to do their homework like the afternoon or early in the morning. Where would they like to do their homework and what do they need to be able to complete their homework assignments. Make sure to keep them accountable for their assignments.When it all boils down to it they just need to get it done and noone else can do it for them.
I really liked the reference to Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside of your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
Knowing your child’s learning styles can also help when it comes time for test taking. You may be able to find ways to help your child like an auditory learner may need to use headphones to limit noise distractions while a visual learner may find that covering up some of the choices can be useful. Also the kinesthetic learner may find that chewing gum helps them while the analytic learner will enjoy some tests but may need to learn to pace themselves. The global learner may find that dressing more comfortably and having a good meal before a test is just what they needed.
Then the book goes on to talk about the teaching styles of the teachers.
The basics are as follows:
- encourage the students to talk via discussions or answering questions
- don’t tolerate interruptions
- prefer a quiet classroom
- use lots of handouts, graphs, charts, diagrams, and posters
- do not talk as much
- often have an auditory or visual back up style
- they can often be found wandering around the room instead of sitting behind the desk
- are often given jobs as coaches
- very organized from the planner to the lesson plans
- limit distractions as much as possible
- may use seating charts
- like to encourage independent work
- may not appear to be as organized as others
- classroom may look more like a ‘home away from home’
The author also talks about the problems that a homeschool parent can encounter as a teacher and a parent. She talks about one mom who let her kids pick out a ‘teacher hat’. This helps to signal the kids that mom is ready to start lessons. I am not much of a hat wearer but I think I do have a cute apron that may work.
We need to work together to embrace the diversity of our children.
If your children are in public school and you can’t find the right fit for your child for one reason or another then this book could definitely be a big help! We need to work together with the schools, the teachers, and the administrations to make schools accept that all children are uniquely different and deserve the chance to succeed.
In order to do this everyone needs to work together with each child as an individual. Just like the little boy with club foot we all have our unique limitations. In order to overcome these limitations we first need to find our strengths and use them to our advantage. This book also mentions that several studies have been done to show that IQ level has no impact on success rates so no matter what level your child is at they can be successful in their own way.
The book also mentions that some of our most famous inventors, like Thomas Edison, had been labeled as misfits at one time or another. Is it possible that many of the learning disabilities diagnosis like ADHD and ADD could just be a misinterpretation of the different learning styles and their variations? Could we just be medicating children to make them ‘fit’ into school?
The diagnosis of a learning disorder can become a permanent part of your child’s medical records and could affect them later on if they decide to enter the military or other occupations. Please don’t take the decision lightly and try out a few options beforehand.
I think its possible that there is a lot of over medicating going on because of the lack of understanding of the learning styles. Would you take medication, if available, to shrink the size of your foot because you like a certain shoe? Would you ignore the possible side effects of the medication just because you think that this shoe will make a better impression on people? Would you pick out a shoe for yourself or your child without measuring the foot first? I hope the answers were NO to those last few questions.
If we think about school shopping like we do shoe shopping we will see that our child is the customer. Is the customer getting what they want or need? Are they happy with the selection? Is there something else out there that can better benefit them?
What does this mean for our homeschool?
I chose to homeschool because my children weren’t getting what they needed from the public school. It wasn’t a good fit for any of them. I can’t change my children’s unique learning styles as much as I can’t change the fact that some of them have special learning disabilities and limitations. After this past year in homeschooling I knew that I needed to change something with the way we homeschool but I juts couldn’t figure out what exactly.
I used the simple questions in the back of the book to help me determine what will work best for each child. Since we do homeschool we can be a little more flexible than a regular brick and mortar school. The fact that I do homeschool multiple children of different ages also means that I don’t have the time to teach each child in their own unique manner. What were our results and what changes will we be making?
Well I found that most of my children are morning people and I know they like to have their snack. This means we will continue to do the majority of our schoolwork in the mornings with a mid-morning snack. On occasion I may offer a snack while they work to see if that improves progress.
I also found that 3 out 5 of them are more Auditory Learners with the other 2 being more Visual Learners. A couple of them have several characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners as well. This means we will be doing more read alouds and giving each child a chance to participate in answering questions and discussions. Recently we received a read along listening center from Lakeshore Learning which may be a big benefit to the Auditory Learners as well.
For the Visual Learners I have already placed several posters and other items around the house for them to explore. Then for Kinesthetic Learners we will be combining some physical activities along with the lessons plus I have found a variety of fidgets and other stress gadgets to help them when they get the urge to wiggle or move around during important lessons.
I also found that 4 out of the 5 children are more Analytic than Global. This explains a lot about what we had going on this past year and hopefully we will be able to make this year a lot better.
The one who is Global may actually benefit from working one on one with different siblings from time to time. I also know now that if she is working on something at the table I need to try to make an effort to ‘work’ alongside her, whether it be doing my weekly grocery list or working on a blog post, just to help keep her focused on the task at hand.
We will also continue to use our routines and schedules to keep everyone organized and help everyone stay on track. Our routines will also help to keep everyone accountable.
I have encouraged input from the children as far as what we will be studying… I promise to get that new post out soon… and with different activities that we would like to do for the upcoming year. While we can’t redesign the whole house so everyone has their own area I will let each child come up with ideas for helping them to have a better learning experience.
I have also tried to narrow down my teaching style so that I can learn what I need to do to help each child succeed. I think I am more of a Visual Teacher with a Kinesthetic Back Up Teaching Style as I love charts, posters, and such plus I am always on the go!
As far as organization I feel that I am more of the Analytic Style but I think my house says more Global… lol… I really don’t know. I like to be organized and I like to have everything planned out which may help as I try to incorporate different ideas into our lesson plans.
Read the book for yourself.
I just wish I had read this book a few years ago and I highly recommend this any parent who wants to help their child succeed at school. So what is this wonderful book? The book is called ‘i HATE SCHOOL: How To Help Your Child Love Learning‘ and it was written by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. If you want more in depth information about the topics I’ve covered then you really should check this book out at your local library or you can use the link here to find it on Amazon.
Other books by this Author:
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