Friday, 27 April 2012

If A Child Can't Learn In The Way We Teach...

I know I have mentioned before about different learning styles, in my previous posts: Reasons to home educate number 6 and How do I home educate?  I just I think it is a really important thing to think about when teaching a child.  It is, to me,  an important thing to discover how your child learns best; in my experience it leads to a happier child. 



What really inspired this post was something a Facebook friend of mine posted on their wall yesterday:  If a child cannot learn the way we teach....

We must teach in a way the child can learn.  I loved it so much I shared it on my wall and An Ordinary Life's Facebook page too.
When I first began home educating, although I didn't realise it at the time, I was fumbling around trying to find a method to teach Chiara.  Fortunately, workbooks and structure is Chiara's thing most of the time; in fact, Chiara sometimes gets upset with me on the weeks that I completely fall out of structure.  But a learning style isn't all about structure or no structure, it's not even about the choice of workbook either, although it can help.  Sometimes it's that they have different ways of learning different things.  Sometimes they getting on really well with a workbook, loving it then they hit something in their workbook that they just don't get.  This can also happen in life too, walking into town explaining something and they just don't get what you mean.  Years ago this would often bring us all frustration and sometimes tears - Chiara hates when things don't come easily to her.

 
When these situations first came up - when I hit, what felt like, brick walls -  I would often get upset with myself and situations to why what I was teaching sometimes wouldn't engage my girls; I felt like I was failing.  Back in those days the words, 'maybe you should go to school' fell off my lips!  I was so afraid of failing my children, when all I wanted was the best for them.  I have to say I'm so glad I never sent them to school.  I am so glad there is another way.  You see that's when I learnt to change the way I taught.
 

 
What really highlighted that I had to change the way I teach was when I started teaching N at the table more.  Nearly everything I had done to teach Chiara seemed not to work with N.  Now N has always been very arty, all her drawing from young were very detailed: every brick drawn, every feather on a bird, all the facial features without prompt.  Chiara is very artistic, don't get me wrong, but with N she never really thought to write much whereas Chiara often did, Chiara would draw, but she would also write and write and write at the age of 4 she wrote a little book, the runaway brownie she called it, and without prompt drew out a story plan on her white board before she even wrote it.  It was amazing!  I have to say, no less amazing than N's drawings.

Although it looks on here maybe as though I am comparing them I'm not really.  It was just that this is what made me realise how different they are.  So I started teaching N with pictures, drawing and diagrams whenever she showed a glimpse of hardship:  Drawing pictures to go with sentences; drawing diagrams in science, making 3D shapes in Maths, more diagrams and drawing in geography and history.



This is when I began putting art into nearly everything I did with N and what a difference it made.  I then thought of ways to teach Chiara in a slightly different way, with Chiara we try different ways for different topics.  Sometimes making a scrapbook for a topic helps, other days drawing and diagrams.
Sometimes it is just looking at things from a different perspective that helps, showing them the fun in learning.  I would say now, if it's not fun you're not doing it right.  Stop, let them have fun and go and find a different way around it that works for your child.

I've written this, purely because I wish I had read something like this when I first started.  I'm not saying my girls and I don't have our bad days but we certainly have less of them now.  I'm still fumbling through some days, but at least I know I just have to look for a different way round it.

8 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you've posted this as your words reflect how I'm feeling right now. I really struggle with Sylvie, (my only 'school age' child). When ever she doesn't understand something she totally switches off and I feel as though I'm wadding through mud to keep up with/discover her learning style. I do think, 'maybe school would be better' but the fact that your words reflect my feelings helps me understand that this is perhaps normal when us hone edders are still finding our feet. Ahhhhh, and relax!!!!!!

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    1. I'm so pleased to hear my post has helped. It is completely normal. It will work out fine in the end; don't give up, you will find your daughter's happy way of learning soon I'm sure :) x

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  2. This is really helpful, thanks. I'm just starting out with my three, & am aware that they all appear to have different learning styles :s I'm a bit daunted by the prospect of trying to work out what those learning styles are - but also looking forward to the freedom of not having to fit them all into any one system :)

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    1. I'm pleased you've found this post encouraging. Just keep trying different things until you stumble across something that works, it will happen. x I agree it a wonderful thing that home education gives us the freedom and time to allow our children to find themselves! xx

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  3. What a great thing to be able to do. It's one of the things I love about home education - being able to adapt your approach to suit each individual child. It makes extra work for parents but what an honour to be able to see your child connect with their learning like that. Your girls are very lucky to have you...

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  4. This is a really well written thought out post Lisa,this, along with your comments about it not always be the youngest that needs most attention have been so helpful to me. Thanks. I am much more comfortable with different learning styles, paces and abilities now if only I had a stunt double .......

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    1. Thanks Katie, it's really lovely to hear that! I could do with one of those stunt doubles if you come across any! x

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