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So where do learning styles fit into homeschooling? Depending upon which homeschooling method you're looking into for your family, you may be preparing or purchasing curriculum to use with your children. Knowing the ways in which your child/ren process and understand new things can be beneficial in finding appropriate resources and building lessons.
Over the years there have been divisions on just how many there are and what exactly they are. As an educator by training, I've seen them change names as well. You can do your own search on this topic but the two most recent ones I've done I found two lists. One with four learning styles: spatial-visual, kinetic, language-oriented and logical; the other with seven: linguistic, logical, spatial, musical, bodily, interpersonal and intrapersonal.
Here's a brief description of each (I've combined both lists below):
Spatial-Visual Learner—needs and likes to visual things; learns through images; enjoys art and drawing; reads maps, charts and diagrams well; fascinated with machines and inventions; plays with Legos; likes mazes and puzzles; often accused of being a daydreamer.
Kinetic Leaner—processes knowledge through physical sensations; highly active; not able to sit still long; communicates with body language and gestures. Shows you rather than tells you, needs to touch and feel the world, good at mimicking others, likes scary amusement rides, naturally athletic and enjoys sports. Often labeled with attention deficient disorder.
Language-oriented Learner—thinks in words, verbalizes concepts, spins tales and jokes, spells words accurately and easily. Can be a good reader or prefer the spoken word more, has excellent memory for names, dates and trivial, likes word games, enjoys using tape recorders and often musically talented.
Logical Learner—thinks conceptually; likes to explore patterns and relationships; enjoys puzzles and seeing how things work; constantly questions and wonders; capable of highly abstract forms of logical thinking at an early age; computes math problems quickly in head; enjoys strategy games, computers and experiments with purpose; creates own designs to build with blocks/Legos.
Linguistic Learner—loves to read, write, and tell stories. Tends to memorize places, dates, names and trivia very easily, and can always mesmerize you with their incredible tales. Can repeat back everything you have ever told them, word for word. They learn best by saying, hearing and seeing words.
Spatial Learner—they are visualizers spending most of the day dreaming, watching movies, and staying as far away from reality as possible; good at working with colors and pictures, and using the 'mind's eye.' Are very artistic, although they may have problems expressing it.
Musical Learner—enjoys music; good at noticing details, pitches and rhythms that escape the 'normal' learning; excellent at keeping tune; adept at turning the abstract into concrete objects. They learn best through rhythm, melody and music.
Bodily Learner—always on the move; constantly walking around. They have to touch everything; uses body language to convey feelings. Would rather play sports or make a craft than sit down and read a book. These learners can do more than one thing at a time. Many are misdiagnosed with ADHD.
Interpersonal Learner—they are "social butterflies;" adapt easily to any type of social situation; have many friends and can be excellent leaders. They are typically patient, understanding and very empathetic; mediate conflict among others. They do best in sharing and relating to others.
Intrapersonal Learner—strong-willed who work best alone. They pursue their own interests and have a deep understanding of themselves. They are independent and original and tend to stand out in a crowd without really trying. They are the "strong, silent type;" do best in self-paced instruction, individualized projects and working alone. They need encouragement to socialize.
Do you notice your child/ren in any of these descriptions? Do you see how no one person fits neatly into one category? Perhaps you have a child that shows strength in a few of them. This isn't strange at all and you shouldn't box any of your children into one or two categories.
In knowing how best your child/ren learn you can quickly identify and create material the will work best for them. Should you look for curriculum to use based on this knowledge, you are likely to have more success if it matches up with the main learning styles exhibited by your child/ren. This understanding of your child/ren will also help in guiding you to a homeschooling method the speaks to the strengths of your child/ren.
Keep in mind that no child falls completing into any one category and that categories can overlap (hence the different lists one can find when searching). Providing opportunities for your child to strengthen the areas in which they may not be strong in, is well advised (i.e. giving your spatial learner lessons that involve kinetic skills and music skills).
For those of you who may be interested in exploring further the learning styles and multiple intelligences of your children here are two inventories you can use and find quickly online: How Many Ways Are You Smart? developed by Laura Candler http://home.att.net/~teaching and Multiple Intelligences Survey by Walter McKenzie http://surfaquiarum.com/MI/inventory.htm There are sure to be others searchable online as well that can offer results online and give you more in-depth feedback and information. I've used the two shared above with my children and other children in my homeschool network.
This is yet another tool that can be used to find your family's individual learning styles and when used as such can assist you in making more appropriate choices for the direction in which your homeschooling can go.
Wishing you the best in finding what works best for you.
Happy Home Learning!