I have heard a rumour recently that learning styles are a myth. Every time I share my learning style quiz and talk to people about the importance and value of finding your child’s learning style and how to teach to it… it comes up. A random article claiming that ‘kids don’t learn a certain way, it’s not really a learning style, it’s more of a preference or ability’ is inevitably shared in the comments of the post. These articles claim that learning styles don’t exist nor effect the way we learn.
In my mind-it’s arguing abut semantics. In other words, it’s all about what the word “learning style” means vs. “ability or strengths and weaknesses.” Who cares! I find it both simpler, and kinder, to say:
“I am a visual learner”
than to say:
“I am weak in auditory memory and have a stronger capacity to retain information that is presented to me in a visual way so I can picture it.”
Whew. You may as well say I am not a good listener! At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how you say it. Whether you teach to your child’s strengths and abilities or teach to their learning style, you are essentially doing the same thing.
I may not have a doctorate or science degree to tell you differently or prove it with charts and graphs and clinical studies. But I do have a little mini experiment happening in my own home: 5 children with 5 unique little personalities.
In my home, in my own little clinical trial, I have learned that my kids do in fact have learning styles. These are not just preferences, they receive and process information in different ways. Sure, for the sake of a test, I can read them a book or give them a math drill and maybe they’ll remember it that week when I quiz them. But as far as settling in to their long-term memory, being information that works its way down to mastery… there is power in teaching to their learning style (or strengths and abilities if you choose to go that route).
Finding your child’s learning style
So now that we can agree on wording (or agree to disagree perhaps), what now? How do you figure out how your child learns the best?
About 5 years ago, I asked myself this question and decided to put together a quiz that was not focused on school and “learning” but rather life. How does your child respond to life situations like going to the mall or dealing with conflict? The way that they learn and embrace and interact with the world around them is the biggest clue we have. It also works great for children that might be too young to know how they best respond to formal education or if you are new to homeschooling.
The quiz is 10 questions long and I recommend you take it for all of your children as well as yourself. The interesting thing about learning styles or strengths is that they don’t go away as we get older. The way you naturally view the world around you is the way you default to teaching. This is super helpful to know because if you are more of a visual or auditory learner and yet your child is kinesthetic, you are going to have to adjust how you teach and get outside of your comfort zone.
How to teach to your child’s learning style
Where it starts to get complicated is when we try to cater everything to our child’s learning styles, especially if we have more than one child. There simply isn’t enough time to teach multiple different programs for multiple different subjects to multiple different children. The more kids you have, the more need you have to find either a more independent curriculum that is likely not super hands on, or to blend your children (who probably don’t all share the same learning style).
If you have more than one child, you need to look for programs that incorporate multiple learning styles or ones in which you can blend children. You also need to consider your own strengths and weaknesses and needs as a family: do you have the time to individualize everything or does your lifestyle demand a certain style of teaching?
Take heart in the fact that we all learn a variety of ways and our children can grow in their weaknesses so there isn’t a need to drop everything and start from scratch. Even if you are using a math curriculum that is very geared towards visual learners, you can add in an auditory or hands on component without switching gears. For example, you could grab a ball and toss it back and forth while you say your math facts instead of just doing it on paper. You could do jumping jacks while you solve word problems, etc.
Engaging all the learning styles with Reading Eggs
Here’s the reality though, finding your child’s learning style and then finding ways to teach to that for every subject is exhausting. Many curriculum options are geared towards a specific learning style and leave you scrambling to adapt it for what your child. The point of this article is not to make you feel like you aren’t doing enough, but rather to show you how simple it can be to adapt or tweak your approach to make learning more effective.
One of the most effective tools we have found that caters to all learning styles is Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs is a computer game/app that teaches reading, phonics, grammar, spelling, writing, vocabulary, and math (with Mathseeds). It is interactive and engaging which is great for kinesthetic learners, it is auditory with songs and instructions built in for auditory learners, and it is bright and has great animations for visual learners. This works great for me because it is also independent which means I get to cater to their learning style without having to be the one to create something.
Try Reading Eggs for free!
I am so excited to be able to offer you guys a 4 week free trial–no strings attached. You get to try the full version of Reading Eggs: Reading Eggs, Reading Eggspress, Mathseeds, and even Reading Eggs Junior, for your whole family for FREE for an entire month. If you have been looking for something that is more engaging or can help build a foundation or fill in the gaps, it will give you a placement test to make sure it is at exactly your child’s level.
Fantastic for all learning styles and easy for mom too! If you want to learn more about how it works or see it in action, check out my quick testimonial on YouTube!
Comment Below: what is your child’s learning style?!?!
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