God made us each unique. I have four daughters, and I am continually amazed at how different they are. They have different personalities, different appearances, different interests, and different ways of processing information. Those different ways of processing information are often referred to as learning styles. Educational researchers and scientists have identified at least four basic types of learning styles: visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic. Some expand this list to also include social, logical, and solitary learners. Later in this post, there will be ideas on how to adapt homeschool curriculum by learning style types.
It’s helpful to know your child’s learning style so that you can best help them learn. If you are not sure what your child’s learning style is, you can have him or her take this learning style quiz to find out. But be careful about the temptation to put your child in a box. Be aware that many children have several preferred learning styles and usually one or two that they don’t like. Once you know your child’s preferred learning style(s), you can work on adapting your homeschool curriculum as well as your homeschool environment to best meet the needs of your child.
Why is it important to accommodate different learning styles?
If we accommodate their different learning styles, our children will likely have better success in school as well as better attitudes about school. Kay Roberts, a HomeWorks consultant and a veteran homeschool mom of three, once illustrated the potential problem of failing to accommodate our children by comparing homeschool curriculum to a large buffet such as a church potluck. If you eat everything offered, you probably won’t have a great experience. You’ll be much happier if you choose what you like and leave the rest.
Kay also pointed out that if we are going to have a good diet, we can’t simply live on the things we like—I would probably die of diabetes from eating way too much sugar. Similarly, our children need to learn to do things in school that they don’t prefer to do. Kay recommends with every homeschool curriculum that you choose the parts you like and the parts you need while being ready to try something new.
Adapting for visual learners
Visual learners prefer to learn from pictures.
- Choose a curriculum that includes a lot of photos, illustrations, and diagrams. (BJU Press textbooks are a great choice!)
- Encourage them to use graphic organizers or even draw their own pictures to help them comprehend the content.
- Give them some erasable colored pencils to use to help them organize information. One of my daughters uses colored pencils to help her keep track of what step she is on when she is doing multistep math problems. They have been a huge help to her!
- Use colorful manipulatives to illustrate math concepts.
- Set up a study space that is free from visual distractions.
- Provide highlighters to mark up their books. You may even want to help them devise a color-coded system (mark main
–points with green, subpoints in yellow, etc.)
- Have them copy the information they are trying to memorize (in multiple colors if they want).
- Use timelines to help them visualize sequences.
Adapting for auditory learners
Auditory learners learn best from hearing the information.
- Encourage them to talk about what they are learning. Many auditory learners need to talk through information in order to fully process it.
- Don’t force them to take notes. Note taking is often distracting to auditory learners, and often they will learn better if they are fully focused on listening.
- Use lectures. An online video curriculum like BJU Press Distance Learning is a great choice for auditory learners because they can listen to master teachers teach the material.
- Read aloud (or encourage them to read aloud) the directions for any assignments.
- Use songs or rhymes to help them memorize information.
- Set up a quiet space for them to study. They may need to do school in a separate room in order to focus. If a separate room is not available, invest in noise-canceling headphones.
- Have them read aloud whenever possible.
- Play soft music while working on subjects such as math or when studying for a test.
- When planning for a writing assignment, have them record their thoughts using an audio or video recorder.
Adapting for read/write learners
Read/write learners (sometimes referred to as verbal learners) learn best by reading or copying information.
- Encourage them to take notes during lectures and when reading. Handwritten notes are particularly helpful to read/write learners.
- Consider allowing them to teach themselves using textbooks and other supplementary books.
- Have them copy information that needs to be memorized (such as spelling words, Bible verses, etc.).
- Give them plenty of time for reading and keep them well-supplied with supplementary reading material.
- If you read aloud, provide them with their own copy of the book and encourage them to follow along.
Adapting for kinesthetic learners
Kinesthetic learners learn best when they can involve their senses. They need to move and touch things.
- Invest in some fidget toys that they can handle when listening to a lecture. Even doodling will often help kinesthetic learners focus.
- Allow them to sit on a fitness ball or even a swing while completing their school work.
- Give them plenty of time for exercise.
- Plan ahead so that you have the materials for any hands-on activities that are assigned. Hands-on activities will help your kinesthetic learner!
- Choose a math curriculum that includes manipulatives.
- Use manipulatives whenever possible. Practice spelling words with Scrabble tiles or with alphabet magnets.
- Have them act out scenes from stories or even historical events.
- Take frequent breaks.
Adapting for solitary learners
Solitary learners learn best when they can be alone to process information.
- Give them time and space to think through concepts and ideas.
- Encourage them to ask questions even though they may not be inclined to do so.
- Provide them with a space away from the rest of the family where they can do their schoolwork. If that is not possible, invest in noise-canceling headphones and some space dividers so that they cannot easily see and hear those around them.
Adapting for social learners
Social learners (also referred to as interpersonal learners) are the opposite of solitary learners. They learn best when they are with other people.
- If your children are close in age, consider having them do some subjects together (Heritage Studies, Science, and Bible often work well).
- Give them opportunities to teach younger siblings.
- Join a homeschool co-op or social group to allow them to regularly interact with peers.
- Encourage them to talk about what they are learning.
- Allow them to do their schoolwork in a common area of the house where they will interact with other family members regularly.
Adapting for logical learners
Logical learners need to understand what they are learning.
- Make timelines, diagrams, and charts to organize information.
- Use manipulatives to illustrate and build understanding of math concepts.
- Diagram sentences to show the relationships among the different parts of speech.
- Encourage them to study the Bible inductively.
- Do a lot of experiments and hands-on activities in science to help build a deep understanding of science concepts.
No matter what type of learner you have, BJU Press can help you successfully homeschool your child. BJU Press materials include activities and teaching strategies to address all learning types. If you are interested in learning more about BJU Press and the options available to families, check out the post “How to Choose the Best Homeschool Curriculum for Your Family.”