I don’t talk so much about learning styles anymore. The topic is controversial. Some believe that learning styles don’t really exist, and that most people utilize all the “types”. People don’t fit neatly into boxes, to be sure. Perhaps it’s more helpful to think in terms of a child’s personality.
Personally, I’ve found personality assessments (Myers/Briggs, the “OCEAN” aka 5 factor model, the 4 temperaments or DISC, etc) to be helpful in promoting understanding among people.
Last year I read a book about children and the 4 temperaments. I won’t mention the name, because for reasons I won’t go into, I can no longer recommend its author. But there are several books like it. One I’ve heard great things about (although disclaimer, I haven’t read it yet) is this: Different Children, Different Needs: Understanding the Unique Personality of Your Child.
The idea of 4 main temperaments is as old as the Greek physician Hippocrates, and people have been writing about it ever since. I did find it fascinating to look at my oldest children through that lens, and they themselves appreciated it. Learning about personality types has made our homeschool flow more easily. It’s made me more accepting.
I realized that, without knowing which “type” the kids were, I had already made adjustments to our homeschool life to best meet their needs. Here are a few notes I took. I’ll discuss one type each day for the next few days. See if you recognize your child in these descriptions.
Sadie, the fun-loving, active child
key words to describe this type: bouncy, random energy, fun, happy, active
- Fun and variety are key. This child needs to mix things up, not doing the exact same routine each day. Sadie would often ask to switch around the order of the subjects to create variety.
- Responds well to fun rewards and token systems, whereas other types may think those silly.
- Checklists can help keep a “random” child on task
- Keep things light. If you’re disappointed/offering constructive criticism, they may think you’re “mad” at them. Be matter-of-fact
- These types need social interaction and extracurriculars more than others. Don’t assume that homeschooling is a bad fit, they may just need more time with friends.
- Get physical. When teaching Sadie parts of speech, I read sentences to her and have her jump for verbs and squat for nouns. Incorporate movement as much as possible.
- Lots of breaks inbetween subjects, don’t require a lot of sitting. Short, frequent study sessions.
- In nice weather, move school outside
- Inject some surprise. They love when you keep things interesting. Try taking schoolwork to a new location, like the park or Starbucks.
- Ask them to perform their best work for others – memorization work (poems, etc) – put on a show. This type is very comfortable with an audience!
- This child may have “physical/kinesthetic” intelligence – gymnastics, dance, singing, drama
- May not tolerate long read-alouds unless allowed to move around and play. Use voices and accents to keep read-aloud fun
- This type thrives in a homeschool environment – traditional school may be difficult for this type because they’re required to do a lot of sitting, which feels like torture, and don’t get the individual attention they thrive on