Have you ever met someone who makes new friends wherever she goes? Someone who listens well, but also likes to think out loud? Someone who loves to collaborate and be part of a team? Perhaps I’m describing you, to a tee. Perhaps I’m also describing one or more of your children. The person I’m describing likely has an interpersonal learning style preference. Interpersonal learners, or social learners, may experience unique challenges in a homeschool setting. Incorporating some of the following strategies and activities for interpersonal learners into your homeschool will help your sociable children succeed.
What is a social or interpersonal learner?
A social learner or interpersonal learner is someone who prefers to learn in a group environment. They love group projects or any type of collaboration. Social learners are friendly, and they’re often perceived as natural leaders. Interpersonal learners will often engage others in discussion to sort out their ideas, but they also make great listeners. Even one on one interactions suit a social learner.
In a homeschool environment, social learners might struggle to get enough person to person interaction while they are learning. Using the strategies below, you can increase your social learner’s opportunities for social learning.
How is the social learner different from verbal and auditory learners?
An interpersonal learning preference is likely secondary to a verbal or auditory learning preference. Interpersonal learners tend to be great communicators and listeners. Verbal and auditory learners can study alone, often speaking out loud to help remember what they have studied. A social learner will prefer to speak to another person and have a conversation about what they are studying. If you homeschool with an independent learning approach, you might find your social learner struggling because he feels too isolated. Give social learners opportunities to interact with you or others as much as you can. Be cautious of distractions from too much social interaction.
Social Learning Style Strategies
- The best strategy for social learners is to use group learning whenever possible. Typically subjects like heritage studies and science work best. Also, electives like Bible, art, music, and physical education are suitable for group learning. The learning in these subjects does not necessarily need to come in a specific order, unlike math and grammar. You can tailor each group learning subject to the developmental level of each of your children. Since they are learning the same material, they will be able to collaborate and learn from each other the way social learners love to do.
- In subjects like math and grammar, allow your older children to teach younger siblings some of the time. This is not to replace you as the teacher, but to give social learners the opportunity to engage the subject in pairs or groups with someone they consider a peer. Teaching younger siblings will reinforce basic concepts in your older child’s mind, so they can continue to build on those basics in their own studies. Younger siblings who are also social learners will benefit from engaging the subject with another person and being able to ask questions of older children who are a little further along in their studies of the subject.
- Participate in book club or other group homeschool activities. If your children’s age range is not suitable for the first two strategies, finding a homeschool group will be a key strategy to help your social learner. Hopefully the group will have other children who are the same age or grade that can act as peer learners for your interpersonal learners. They may also be able to participate in group field trips with educational purposes.
- Even if none of the above strategies will work for your particular situation, you can prioritize one on one time with your children who have a social learning preference. They will thrive with the ability to ask questions and get personal feedback from another person. Social learners even in a traditional school setting will often seek one on one time with their teachers, and you can certainly provide that in a homeschool setting as well.
What strategies from other learning styles work for an interpersonal learner?
Many of the best learning strategies overlap multiple learning style preferences. Here are some examples where learning strategies for other learning styles work well for social learners, too.
- Active learning strategies work well for all types of learners. Some of them are specifically designed for two or more people to participate and will work well for social learning. Several of these are included below in the activities section.
- Visual learners are not the only students who benefit from visual aids and manipulatives. If you can, allow your social learners to create visual aids together. Have them work with manipulatives in groups if possible.
- Verbal learners benefit from teaching siblings the material they are studying. Role playing activities appeal to both verbal learners and social learners.
- Kinesthetic learners prefer activities they can participate in. Any activity with a group of people will also appeal to interpersonal learners. Some examples include role playing, using manipulatives, field trips, and art classes.
- Logical learners benefit from timeline projects. Make a timeline of the world’s history with all of your children to benefit your social learners as well.
- Auditory learners benefit from speaking out loud. Engaging in a conversation with one or more people will benefit both auditory and social learners.
Interpersonal Learning Activities
- Think pair share is an active learning strategy that encourages students to work together to come up with ideas. Initially, each child thinks about an answer or answers alone. Next, they pair with another child to evaluate their answers and decide on the best ones. Finally, the pair shares with a larger group. You might be able to use this activity for a subject that you are group learning with all of your children.
- Group discussions are another great activity for your social learners. Even if your group is small, they will engage with this activity quite well. In fact, the discussion could just be with you, the parent. Or it could take place around a meal time, getting the whole family involved in discussing a topic one or more of your children are currently learning about.
- Debates are a fun way to engage interpersonal learners. Each child studies one side of a debate topic and then brings her best arguments to the table. Debates will also appeal to logical learners, who tend to love a good argument.
- Review games appeal to many learners, but the social aspect of games is what appeals to interpersonal learners. Give younger children a handicap or some help from you to keep it fair. You might choose a topic for a review game that your younger children are learning about. This will engage your older children in a form of spiral learning where they revisit topics they learned earlier to reinforce them.
- Role playing encourages children to put what they have learned into their own words, which is great for all learners. Involve all of your children in a role play activity or to act out scenes from a play or story. The interpersonal learners will love it.
- Interpersonal learners might enjoy giving an oral presentation to family members more than writing a report. Help them practice and improve their speaking skills in the process of preparing for such a presentation.
- Teaching siblings is a great way for social learners to reinforce what they have learned. If siblings are not ready to listen to a particular topic, maybe an adult family member can be the “student.” Social learners would rather tell someone else about a topic than try to study it alone.
- Naturally, there will be times when even social learners will need to learn in isolation.
Study Tips for Interpersonal Learners
- Interpersonal learners will study best in a group if possible. If it is not possible, try studying by pretending to teach the content to someone else. Maybe grandma or a younger sibling can be available for you to teach what you have learned.
- Interviewing an expert, if you can find one, is a great way to learn a subject in depth. Question and answer sessions appeal to social learners when they can ask the questions that interest them.
- Talk to a rubber ducky. It may sound crazy, but computer programmers have used this trick for decades. They can often find gaps in their code by explaining how the code works to a rubber duck. If no one is around, try explaining what you are learning to a rubber duck or another toy. Sometimes talking to a toy is better than talking to yourself, especially if you have a social learning preference.
- Seek feedback from parents or other adults. Your people skills are a benefit, so use them to your advantage. Anyone who is willing to listen can be a sounding board for your ideas.
- Form a study group. Find other students in your grade who are learning the same subject, and learn together. You might find these students through a homeschool cooperative, at your church, or in your neighborhood.
Is my child a social learner?
If you are not sure whether your child is a social learner, try taking our Learning Styles Quiz to find out what their learning preferences are. They are likely some combination of the 7 Types of Learning Styles. Check out all of our deep dives into the learning styles to see which activities are best suited to the learning styles of your children. Many of the strategies and activities overlap and are helpful for multiple types of learning preferences. And students often benefit from learning activities outside of their specific preferences.
• • • • •Valerie is a wife and a mother to a very busy preschooler. In her free time she enjoys reading all kinds of books. She earned a B.S. in Biology from Bob Jones University, minoring in Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Ohio State University. Valerie has 15 years of experience working in research laboratories and has coauthored 8 original research articles. She has also taught several classes and laboratories at the high school and college levels. She currently works as a Data Analyst and a freelance writer.