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Our Reasons for Home Education:

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Although he was achieving good results, he wasn't reaching his full potential because his love for learning had been destroyed & hence his grades were steadily declining.

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Completely failed by the system, he hated school, was always tired & homework time was a major frustration for both of us. He was severely frustrated & quickly heading to become yet another ADHD statistic.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Discover Your Child’s Learning Style (Book Review)

This video was such an eye opener… I finally understand why I disliked school myself in spite of achieving good grades. I also understand now why my very bright second grader was struggling through school, hating every moment of it. He was yet another bright little star amongst many that lost it’s shine because his unique way of learning was not acknowledged.
Having removed a struggling 2nd grader from a system that was causing major stress & frustration as well as lack of self confidence, I stumbled across an article on Learning styles and how it affects our ability to learn and retain material. I decided to make some time this year to do some more in depth study on this subject before investing in more curricula in order to help my boys reach their full potential where education is concerned. I bought this book last December, but only just made the time to read it now… In hindsight, I really should have made it my first priority before the school year started. It would have been even better had I known all this before we took on home education, then we could have saved ourselves a whole year of stress and frustration resulting from an approach that doesn’t work for their learning styles…
Front Cover

Children Learn in Unique Ways – Here’s the Key to Every Child’s Learning Success.

by Mariaemma Willis, M.S. & Victoria Kindle Hodson, M.A.

“This book is a necessity for homeschoolers. It goes much deeper than other learning-style philosophies and offers field-proven insight and knowledge resulting from the authors’ work with hundreds of real families. The material in this boo changed our family’s life!” ~ Michael and Mary Leppert, authors of The Homeschooling Almanac, 2000-2001 and publishers of The Link, a homeschool newspaper.

Part I motivates us to get on the child’s team.

It never ceases to amaze me that we still insist on teaching our children with a system that has failed ourselves and is still constantly proving to fail them. In a day and age where we have the world of knowledge at our fingertips teachers still persist in teaching kids with methods that don’t work for the majority of students and in the process kills their love for learning. Many students today are lost in a system, believing they are failures whereas in fact, the system has failed to acknowledge and cater for the way they learn best.
“Lifelong self images are formed by how successful we are in school. The word "failure" often echoes in a person's ear well into adulthood and undermines marriages, parent-child relationships and careers. I wish I had the space to tell my adult clients' stories about the negative consequences of having been labelled a failure in elementary school.”
Although we know much more about how the brain works and how different learning styles affect our behaviour and also how we learn, the status quo still remains rote memorization and recitation in classrooms with passive children who are sternly disciplined when they express individual needs. In spite of all the knowledge available, we still continue to bring school back into our homes and teach with a boring textbooks & worksheet wasteland approach.
We know now that “helping kids find out who they really are – what they are good at and what they love to do – is the most important way of maintaining natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. We need to stop drawing attention to what kids can’t do and start emphasizing what they can do.” I have seen with my struggling learner that removing the focus on what he can’t do, to praising that which he can do is vital in restoring the self confidence. Once the self-confidence is restored, the student can focus on the problem areas which are then very easily overcome.
“When you help your child identify and respect his own learning strengths, interests, talents and needs, you give him roots in the gifts he was born with. When you help your child discover his dreams, passions and goals, you give him the wings of motivation and purpose for becoming an eager, self-directed learner. In both cases your efforts result in a more successful learner.”
  It is important to acknowledge your child’s learning style & help him find his talents and strengths. “Genuine acknowledgement of how kids see themselves unlocks a treasure trove of interests, concerns, dreams, hopes and passions – which provide the real reasons and motivation to learn.” This book helps parents and educators do just that… it supplies the assessment for the learner to complete in order to determine his learning style & strengths. It also includes valuable suggestions to help parents and educators support the child in exploring their interests and strengths.
“It takes personal attention to discover and nurture the self-directed, eager learner in any child. Unfortunately, the majority of our schools do not have enough time or sufficient numbers of teachers to give children individualized attention; therefore if you want personal attention for your child, you are going to have to take charge and give it yourself. By taking time to discover your child's learning style, you can provide a foundation for your child's lifelong learning success. All children can be self-directed learners if they get the right start, and the right start begins at home.”
This personal attention takes time & effort from educators, but unfortunately teachers today are so inundated with classroom management and senseless “busywork” that they do not have the time to spend one-on-one quality time with all their students.

If you add up the amount of undivided individual attention most students get during their 12 years in school, it probably comes to about 3 to 6 school days' worth. ~ Peter Kline

Our schools and teachers are too busy identifying and sifting the “good” students from the “not-so-good” students. They follow a factory-model-education that has been designed to sort out the so-called smart students from the slow students and concentrate their limited resources on the few winners who will become the leaders of the country. The standard procedure for assessing learning is testing – intelligence testing, standardized grade-level testing, daily classroom quizzes, entrance exams etc. The 68% of students that score within the “average” range will be called “normal”. Those who score above are “gifted” and all those below end up being labelled “ADD, dyslexic, learning disabled, hyperactive, ADHD, slow, below average, unmotivated, disruptive etc.”
“While some students seem to be naturally self-motivated, what I have discovered is that ALL children can be self-directed learners if they get the right start, and the right start begins at home.”
Instead of attempting to “fix” or “direct” the children, this system celebrates each child’s natural gifts and abilities. This book provides 5 concepts (C.A.R.E.S.) to help parents become part of their children's learning teams.
  • Celebrate your child’s uniqueness
  • Accept your role as a teacher
  • Respond rather than react
  • Expand your view of where learning takes place
  • Stop blindly supporting the bell curve evaluations and definitions of your child
This book encourages parents and educators to treat each child as an individual and help them find out what they love to do. It helps them discover the child’s talents and use appropriate strategies to enhance learning. It teaches children to use the learning style information to learn more efficiently.
“To keep the vital motivating force for learning alive in your child, celebrate her desire to wonder, play, discover and question; celebrate his skills, interests, accomplishments and uniqueness. Young children who are recognized for who they are don’t do drugs, don’t turn to violence and crime and don’t feel the need to join gangs when they are older.”
Schools are learning-style biased. They focus on outside-in education, which means that knowledge is dispensed and the student is expected to be passive most of the time in order to receive the information. The Learning Style Profile in this book however, encourages inside-out education, which means that students are expected to be active and involved. Motivation for learning comes from having interests, strengths and coals acknowledged and from being appropriately challenged.
“It is estimated that 95% of Kindergarteners feel good about their learning potential. However, 98% of seniors at high school have lost their creative, inquisitive spirits. What happened to all but 2% of these seniors?”

Part II explains the Learning Style Profile.

5 Learning Style Dispositions

Our dispositions determine the way we work, communicate and learn. This is how the world sees us. For each of these dispositions, this book includes learning characteristics, preferred setting, contributions, areas for growth, relationship conflicts, ideal curriculum, homework helps & motivators. It also includes a quick reference chart with a helpful materials list.
  1. Performing ~ (Move) need for spontaneity and playfulness.
  2. Producing ~ (Organise) need order and efficiency.
  3. Inventing ~ (Discover) need intellectual stimulation, competence and a chance to make a practical contribution.
  4. Relating/Inspiring ~ (Interact) need  to contribute to the well-being of others.
  5. Thinking/Creating ~ (Create) need to contribute new ideas.
Safety is a basic human need that is prerequisite to academic learning. When we don’t accept and work with children’s learning styles they don’t get the acknowledgement and acceptance that is required to make them feel safe in their environment and relationships. This causes learning to suffer and many people pay a price their entire lives. Our need to be recognised for ourselves it perhaps the deepest need of all. Many people are still trying to be acknowledged for who they are even into adulthood.

12 Talents

These are our natural gifts and show up as skill and ease in learning a subject without precious instruction. A very surprising aspect of talents is that a person may be gifted in an area without having the least bit interest in it. These gifts are often mishandled or misunderstood by well-meaning adults, who may 1) force children to pursue talents they observe or 2) fail to encourage a talent that a child is interested in developing.
  1. Music ~ skill in playing instruments, singing, humming, whistling etc.
  2. Math-Logic Reasoning ~ catches on quickly to mathematical patterns, easily memorizes facts and formulas.
  3. Mechanical Reasoning ~ loves to fix things.
  4. Word-Language Reasoning ~ a proficiency with words and strong reasoning ability with language.
  5. Spatial ~ these are the doodlers who love drawing or copying pictures or designs, painting, thinking in pictures and remember what is seen.
  6. Body Coordination ~ they enjoy or excel at sport or have body coordination talent.
  7. Interactive-Self ~ often enjoy being alone. They place a high priority on being independent & might even be reclusive.
  8. Interactive-Others ~ their focus is being social, making friends, understanding people and making others feel good about themselves.
  9. Interactive-Animals ~ (Dr, Doolittle Talent) they can generate trust in animals.
  10. Interactive-Nature ~ they have difficulty being indoors.
  11. Humor ~ can turn an ordinary situation into one that will make others laugh.
  12. Daily Life Enhancement ~ people who cook, create lovely, liveable, cosy and inspiring places.
“If our schools were set up differently, children would be allowed to begin their school lives guided by their talents. In other words, each child would be absorbed in developing the particular talent areas that he is interested in and the other subjects would be integrated around these talent areas.”
Many homeschool students follow the direction that their talents lead them with great enthusiasm and commitment.
“Without once referring to reading comprehension, arithmetic, science, history or geography, a child can sleuth for information energetically, share her surprise at what she finds, make inferences, draw conclusions, and find additional springboards for collecting even more information.”
Unit Studies would be a great example of this type of learning where all these skills are taught around a theme that may be of interest to the student.

Interests

These are not necessarily the child’s talents, but something that he may interested in. A child that has a talent for music or art, may not necessarily be interested in developing those areas. We may want them to develop a talent that is obvious to us, but they have a need to pursue their interests. Pursuing interests is a a vital part of healthy living.

Modality

This refers to the modes or senses through which people take in and process information and is just one aspect of learning style.
  • Auditory ~ material includes noise, music, songs, lectures, verbal explanations, taped information, stories told aloud, conversations and the sound of one’s own voice.
“The traditional classroom, which is set up to teach mostly to the auditory mode, is serving only about 34% of its students.”
  • Visual ~ Here we have the picture and print learners who are although grouped into one category are very different.
    • Picture Learners think in pictures and their material includes charts, graphs, designs, forms, layouts, maps, objects, drawings, movies and dramatic performances whereas
    • Print Learners think in words and they need to read and write to process information. They benefit from underlining or highlighting the material as they read, taking notes in word-mapping or outline formats, writing down incoming auditory information and translating visual information into words.
“Picture Learners are often mistakenly given printed-language techniques instead of pictures to help them learn.”
  • Tactile-Kinaesthetic ~ These children learn most effectively when they are able to touch things (tactile) and move around(kinaesthetic) in the learning environment. Movement in the learning environment is usually interpreted as disruptive rather than intelligent, hence these learners often get in trouble for seemingly “not paying attention”. Most of these children end up labelled hyperactive instead of having their legitimate learning needs responded to. My youngest falls into this group & applying the learning tools & methods mentioned in this book have made a huge difference to his progress.

The 4 basic types of tactile-kinaesthetic learners are

    • Hands-on learners ~ hands-on activities like construction or assembling
    • Whole-Body learners ~ act, walk, play and use whole-body movements
    • Sketching learners ~ drawing, colouring and doodling
    • Writing learners ~ need to write things out in order to process and understand.

“You were born to learn with your whole body and all your senses. You were not born to sit in a chair eight hours a day and listen to someone talk, or pore over books year in in and year out… Until recently (only minutes on the evolutionary scale) there were no books, no classrooms and no lectures… If we pay attention to the learning of babies and young children, we can see how similar it is to the way our ancestors learned throughout their lives. ~ Peter Kline.

Environment

This refers to the environment in which the student is studies most effectively.
  1. Sound ~ note whether the student needs silence or noise e.g. music whilst studying.
  2. Body Position ~ does he work best sitting at a desk, reclining on a couch, standing at an easel.
  3. Interaction ~ does the student learn best interacting with others or on its own.
  4. Lighting ~ note whether the child performs better in bright light or low-to-moderate light. Some children may even prefer the indirect natural sunlight.
  5. Temperature ~ take note how your child is affected by room temperature when studying.
  6. Food ~ For children who need to snack regularly throughout the day, healthy food and drinks need to be made readily available.
  7. Colour ~ when surrounded by their favourite colours students think more positively and feel more motivated.
  8. Time of Day ~ For most children academic learning is probably done best in the late morning or early afternoon. For some however, it is best in the evening. Be flexible enough to rearrange their schedule of activities to accommodate the child’s preference to better suit their learning needs.

Part III equips us to Coach for Success

Use the stay F.I.T.T. technique to coach your child into learning success.
  • Focus on solutions ~ When a child is taught to focus on solutions rather than blame, they will be more likely to feel capable instead of fearful, withdrawn and / or rebellious. These children are more aware that problems can be handled and develop an ability to handle setbacks.
“Kids who are raised with solution-focused problem solving instead of consequences or punishment develop the ability to keep going in the face of setbacks.”
  • Identify goals ~ Kids who have goals can see their future and are more eager to learn since the goals will give them a sense of purpose.
“Without goals of their own, kids are often passive participants in the goals that other people have for them.”
  • Track successes ~ People are more likely to remember the pain of their failures. When students start receiving frowning faces and red marks on their papers, the emphasis changes to “tracking of failures”. Children receive these reports of failure year after year leaving them with a negative impact on their self-esteem.
“Success tracking helps conscientious learners take pleasure in their accomplishments rather than fear failure.”
  • Take the pressure off ~ kids are under so much pressure today. It is good to allow them to “do nothing” from time to time. They don’t need continual reminding of their inadequacies. This can cause insecurities and negatively impact their progress.
“At times we have to say “What you are doing is ‘good enough.’
Our role as coach is to assist, support and nurture your child whilst keeping him fully involved in his learning process. This book also covers learning disability, dyslexia, reversals, ADD and Hyperactivity, Scotopic Sensitivity, Neurological Problems, as well as Biochemical Imbalances.
 
For those parents who are not able to remove their children from the system, by means of home education, this book will help you discover and support your children’s dispositions, talents, interests and environmental needs at home. In doing this the child learns that her ideas, best ways of learning, contributions to a group and learning needs are important even though the school may not be set up to recognise them. The child will learn that she can have a vital live in spite of school definitions and preferences. This involvement in a life separate from school will develop confidence that will eventually affect school studies as well. Parents can also find advise on how to talk to their child’s teacher in order to have the child’s learning style acknowledged in order to improve their performance.

Visit the Learning Success Institute below for more learning style related products.

On line Learning Styles Profile
A Self-Portrait™ Online Profile: Developed by the authors of “Discover Your Child’s Learning Style”, Mariaemma Willis & Victoria Kindle Hodson, this LearningSuccess™ profile will help you bring out the star in each of your children! Find out how your child learns best, customize curriculum, eliminate destructive learning disability labels, avoid conflicts, and coach for learning success! This profile can be purchased and taken online, and you get immediate printable results and learning strategy recommendations for 5 aspects of learning style: Disposition, Modality, Environment, Interest, and Talents, plus a downloadable Parent/Student Manual. Use this link to receive a discount of $5.00 per profile: you pay only $30 per profile or $25 each for 3 or more.
Coaching for Learning Success™