After making the decision to homeschool, one of the most overwhelming choices parents face is choosing a curriculum. If you’ve been paying the least bit of attention to your children over the years, and I’ll assume you have, you begin to realize that children learn in many different ways – even children in the same family.
If you are starting to homeschool after your children have spent many years in school outside your home, it may take awhile to figure out how they learn best, because time in a public or private school can turn anyone into a “workbook” learner.
Rushing into a curriculum purchase, then, is an almost instant recipe for disappointment and frustration.
So sit back, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, take a deep breath, and read on before you buy that first book! (But don’t panic if you’ve already spent some money – there’s always used book sales.)
Here’s how to determine your child’s learning style
- Take a few weeks just watching them. Yes, I said weeks! This is a process, and the more information you collect, the clearer you will be on how to move ahead. Provide educational books (fiction and non-fiction), games, models, kits, software, etc (only limited and supervised internet surfing allowed!) and see what they gravitate towards. What do they choose to do when they have free time? What toys do they like to play with? Take good notes ~ you will not remember, trust me.
- Look at your notes and see how their choices fit into the following categories. While there are many ways to assess learning styles, this particular way is based on personality characteristics or temperament. I find it easier to use these distinctions, as they take into account how a person behaves and responds in situations outside of the school environment as well:
The Active Learner: sometimes known as the “strong-willed” child; likes hands-on activities, manipulatives, construction-type toys; most young children are in this category
The Routine Learner: best-suited toward traditional curricula; likes worksheet/workbooks and completing tasks
The Specific Learner: needs to be challenged and uses hands-on activities to deepen his understanding of concepts; well suited for learning under a mentor
The Global Learner: loves working and learning in a group; likes to read and learn about ideas in context
The infographic below, courtesy of Edudemic.com, gives more detail of 7 distinct styles of learning. While the information there may help you, I understand that it may also overwhelm! Bear in mind a few things:
- Many of us may display different styles of learning in different situations, or even combinations of some of these styles. Look for generalities and patterns.
- The point here is not so much as coming up with a “label” as it is to get to know your child better and how best to help them learn. Approach this process with love and an open mind.
- Whatever you do, please don’t develop a legalistic mindset! And don’t get discouraged trying to determine your child’s style. Have fun, and perhaps work at determining your own and/or your spouse’s learning styles. This can actually become a family-bonding activity if approached with the right mindset.
- Finally, start a Word document and write a summary for yourself. If you keep this updated as your child grows and changes (some characteristics may overlap even in the same individual), you can use this when making curriculum choices each year.
Now what do I do?
- Some catalog companies, such as ROCK Solid, Timberdoodle and HomeSchoolingBooks also offer assistance in choosing or evaluating curriculum choices. It’s worth the effort to take the time and understand your child’s learning style. Time spent now will pave the way for positive and productive schooling in the future.
- Jena Names developed this tool as a result of her own frustrations when she began homeschooling her daughter. After completing the evaluation, she also provides further assistance if you still feel you need it. Learn more about this Learning Styles Profile, which takes only 30 minutes to complete. Then use the results to create a custom homeschool curriculum to meet your child’s needs!
- Sign up for our FREE newsletter. We will update you on techniques, products, activities and articles that can help you choose and use various resources to your child’s best interest!
Have you determined your child’s learning style yet? Do you have any words of encouragement or tips that might help others in this area? Please feel free to share in the comments below 🙂