Thursday, March 28, 2013

Learning Styles

So you may be seeing from my reviews and posts how I talk about my children's learning styles.  Every person has a learning style.  It is similar to how people have personality styles. 

When I first read about learning styles, we were in our 3rd year of homeschooling.  The first year went rather smoothly, but the 2nd and 3rd year were frustrating to say the least.  We were using a traditional textbook curriculum (and it's a GREAT curriculum if that's your learning style) and it was just so much busy work.  Jonathan and I didn't mind some repetition but this was beyond insane.  There was several (10+) pages of work to do.  Much of that was copy work.  For a child entering 1st and 2nd grade I feel it was too overwhelming.

The 1st grade was also a struggle because this curriculum felt it was ok to teach cursive at that age.  I could see for a girl, MAYBE, but for a boy, DEFINITELY NOT!  Fine motor skills are still being learned at that age and writing in cursive requires a LOT of skill!  Why teach something in 1st grade (they actually do Kindergarten but I chose the manuscript program for K) when they aren't developed in that area yet?  Had things changed so much in the 20 years since I was homeschooled that it was necessary to teach cursive in Kindergarten/1st Grade?  I would hope not.  I think that 3rd grade is plenty early enough.  But that's my personal opinion. 

Ok, back to the Learning Styles!  :)  (my ADD moment above)

So I didn't know a thing about learning styles when I started homeschooling Jonathan in Kindergarten.  I just chose what my parents used on me.  By the time our 3rd year rolled around we were stressed, frustrated and I was ready to quit!  Yes, you read that right, READY TO QUIT!!!  So what do I do when I am ready to quit?  I purchased a book about homeschool curriculum!  The title of the book was 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child's Learning Style by Cathy Duffy

That book was probably the BEST investment I ever made!  In it I learned many things.  You have to have goals for your homeschool!  You should have a Mission Statement for your homeschool.  You should know your child's learning style and your teaching style. 

What happened with Jonathan and I is my teaching style and his learning style were clashing.  No wonder we were so frustrated with each other.  We both shed tears and unfortunately there was a lot of yelling and frustration for both parties.  I don't like to yell.  It's not good for either person!  Especially when trying to encourage learning.

I learned so MUCH from reading this book.  How to determine my children's learning style and my own teaching style.  I also learned that I needed to adapt.  And let me tell you.  That is HARD!  I was so used to the way I was taught and learned as a child that I pressed that onto my child who was totally different.  No wonder we butted heads! 

So in learning his style, I changed curriculum (yes, I did this mid-year), adapted my teaching style to his needs and we finished that year fairly successful. 

Homeschooling is such a learning experience.  Not just for the student, but also the parent.  I had no clue about learning styles and the types of curriculums available for each type.  But reading Cathy's book was such an eye opener.  It really helped me make better choices for my children.

So whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned homeschooler who thinks/knows that things might not be working completely, I highly recommend this book!  It has been a GREAT help to me and I know my kids are enjoying learning now that I know HOW they learn.  :)

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