The Bible teaches us that as parents we are not to frustrate our children, because if we do, they will become discouraged and simply quit trying (Colossians 3:21). Yet, as the beginning of the next school year is just around the corner, the danger of doing just that is also within easy reach.
Homework -- A Nightly Battle?
We all know the scene too well: little Johnny is at the dinner table and dad is trying to get him to memorize the multiplication table -- with little success. Little Sally is attempting to finish her writing assignment, but what looks like a 10-minute exercise to mom has already dragged into a 45-minute struggle, accompanied by tears, tantrums, threats, bribes, and pencil-throwing.
If homework in your house has turned into a nightly battle that leaves one or more participants in tears, with elevated blood pressure, or sore vocal cords, it may be time to examine your understanding and acceptance of your child's learning style.
What Is A "Learning Style"?
A learning style is nothing more than the method with a person uses to receive information, process it, and store it for future reference. The learning styles which have been discovered are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.
Is Your Child An Auditory Learner?
Being an auditory learner means that rather than reading information off a page, your child will be able to process the information better if s/he hears it and is encouraged to repeat it. For example, let's say you are teaching your child that 2x2=4. The auditory learner will be able to retain this information if you slowly read the equation to her/him and encourage her/him to repeat it.
Hints that your child is an auditory learner include her/his being an early talker, having an extraordinary large vocabulary, spelling phonetically, and being easily distracted by noise. Additionally, when you read to your child, does s/he mouth the words as you say them?
To support your auditory learner, consider investing in a tape recorder which you might use to record the multiplication table, and other information. This may be used concurrently with the written math problems to help her/him follow along.
Is Your Child A Visual Learner?
As the term implies, the visual learner will retain little information by simply hearing it, but will do well when s/he can see the information -- either the written word, or pictures. Using the 2x2=4 example, the visual learner will be able to retain the information by simply seeing it printed out.
Hints that your child is a visual learner include her/his being extremely observant about details that may escape others. S/he may not be able to sit still and listen to stories for a long time but quickly begin squirming and perhaps even start doodling. When you read to your child, does s/he want to look at the pictures, and perhaps follow the words with her/his finger?
To support your visual learner, simply invest in some flash cards, books, etc. And remember, the TV needs to be off when s/he is studying, as it is too great of a distraction!
Is You Child A Kinesthetic Learner?
The kinesthetic child will learn best by touching. For example, if you are teaching her/him that 2x2=4, it will work wonders to have some marbles ready to illustrate the point. If the equation was written with puffy paint, it too would make a world of difference!
Hints that your child may be a kinesthetic learner are your child's perpetual mobility: s/he is always up and about, may love sports, but may not like to sit still for extended periods. When reading to her/him, s/he may be bounding around, and perhaps even acting out what you are reading!
To support your kinesthetic learner, please give as many hands-on opportunities as possible. Cutting things out, working with magnetic letters, and even the ever-ready sandpaper cut into shapes, numbers, etc. may do wonders!
So…From Now On…
Not so quick…today's kinesthetic learner may become tomorrow's visual learner! Children, just like grown-ups, do not fit into readily available molds, and are ever changing persons in their own right! Be alert for changes in your child's learning style; learning styles may actually vary from topic to topic, and it is your job, as the parent, to ascertain what works best for your child. The school may be able to assist you, but it will not have the time, energy, and motivation to encourage your child in a way that will guarantee her/his thriving!
Last but not least, please remember to tell this to your child over and over again: "You do your best, and God will do the rest!
Some children may not be destined to be A+ students, but with your help, your prayers, and their confidence in you, themselves, and God, they will be able to learn and develop to their full potential.