I can remember in my early days of homeschooling talking to a veteran Homeschool mom about a phonics curriculum I had just purchased. I boasted that I would be able to use it for each subsequent child. She smiled sweetly, put her hand on my arm and told me gently, “It may not work for your other children. One size does not fit all!”
Learning styles. One size does not fit all!
I gingerly brushed off her comment, for surely she had to be wrong!
The first child sailed through the curriculum. After some tweaking, the next child sailed through as well. The third child sailed into the curriculum with a resounding ‘THUD’. There was no amount of tweaking that could fix this one. Turns out, my veteran friend knew a thing or two!
I’m happy to say that since that time all three children are reading. I had one read early, one “right on schedule” and one read late. However, the approach for each was different.
Rather than labeling a child who doesn’t ‘conform’ to a particular curriculum, it’s helpful (and less traumatic) to figure out how they learn in the first place!
Let me give you an example of how each of my children approaches learning. Here’s a commical look at how they would view learning from a workbook. (Names are withheld)
Child #1 is presented with the workbook. He/she takes it, thumbs through it and sighs. ”Well Mom, I’ll go through it. BUT, I will require a running dialogue with you. Ideas will be created in my head and I will need to verbalize them in order to process the information. Besides, I will remember the information within the interaction far longer than by reading it alone.”
Child #2 is presented with the workbook. He/she takes it and remarks, “Mother, this book appears to be filled with facts. Since I enjoy facts, I will joyfully read it. However, when I’m done I will require more books on this topic. Because reading cements information to my brain.”
Child #3 is presented with the workbook. He/she takes it. Upon seeing what it is, feigns illness and dramatically faints. Pretending to gasp for breath whispers, “No, Mommy…..No….Not… a…. workbook!” Regaining their footing continues with “Is there anything in that book that requires movement or a hands-on project? If I can touch it, build it, or redesign it I can learn it, master it and retain it. Mere words on a page without action are lost to me upon turning that page.”
From these examples it’s easy to see why one size doesn’t fit all. Understanding learning styles can save a homeschool parent a lot of frustration and enable them to change gears and curriculum as necessary.