When my daughter was in preschool, her teacher came to me solemnly around Christmas and said, “We need to talk.” When we met, the teacher told me that we needed to have Grace tested for language deficiencies because she wasn’t talking yet.
I was flabbergasted. At home – where Grace was except for eight hours a week of preschool – she was a nonstop chatterbox. In fact, I sometimes proudly listened to her with my ‘Professional Educator’ hat on and wondered if her language skills might be a bit advanced.
I kindly told the teacher that I thought Grace was just a bit on the shy side, and told her all about her language at home. I even recorded her merrily talking nonstop to us. Even so, the teacher persisted in telling me that I should have her evaluated.
The next year, again in preschool for a few hours a week, her new teacher began to tell me how quiet Grace was in class. She said that, rather than participating, Grace was standing back and observing from the edges of the room. After her continued insistence that I have my daughter evaluated and her persistent offering of how far Grace was behind her peers, I finally came out of the closet.
I hadn’t yet told anyone there that I had been a special education teacher for 10 years. Nor had I shared with them that I had a doctorate in education. When I finally did (kindly), I also confessed that the teacher’s insistence that I see Grace as struggling was incredibly stressful for me – even with a shelf full of education books and 20 years of experience.
I want you to know that the “Momma Bear,” adrenaline-pumping fear that sets in when you wonder if something is wrong with your child is universal.
What I went on to say to this teacher was that I thought Grace had a learning style difference, or a difference in temperament. The teacher said, “Temperament?”
We changed schools the next year.
The 4-Type Learning Style Model
On Monday, I kicked off our series with the idea that we are all uniquely wired by our Creator and fall along a continuum of learning styles. There’s no one who is 100% one style and 0% another! But it is incredibly helpful to understand the learning styles of our children, particularly when we’re homeschooling them around the table every day.
Yesterday, I wrote about the VARK learning style, which is probably the most popular way of categorizing learning styles. It’s helpful to understand if our children lean more toward visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic modes of learning.
Today, I’ll introduce another popular model for learning and personality styles. (It’s true – they’re not terribly different.) Many models of learning styles are based upon these basic types, but the most popular model is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
The four characteristics of this type are:
Today we’ll define the first two and how they apply to our everyday tasks as we sit around the table with our kids.
Extroverts and Introverts
You’re probably familiar with this one, right? One mistake that people often make is assuming that extroverts always want to be around people and that introverts are quiet little souls without many friends.
Since this book came out a few years ago, people have been talking more about introverts. I’ve even heard the term “social introvert” to describe certain kids and adults.
In a nutshell, an extrovert gets their energy from being with other people, while an introvert draws energy from being alone. But, as I wrote on day 1, very few of us land at the far end of this continuum. I’m an introvert, for sure. However, there are certain people I love to be around and who also give me energy. I can and do operate around lots of people most days, and this is fine – as long as I have a little alone time to power back up.
How This Impacts Learning
I’m sure that it doesn’t surprise you to read that extroverts like to learn in groups. Sometimes – but not always – extroverts are more than willing to jump into a discussion about what is being learned. Sometimes – but again, not always – they prefer to learn information from another person rather than in the isolation of a textbook.
Introverts, on the other hand, are the ones who groan when group projects are assigned. Sometimes – but not always – introverts would prefer to learn by reading, listening, and reflecting by themselves.
Sensing and Intuitive Styles
Those with a sensing strength often learn about the world around them through their senses. They are more likely to notice the physical world, and draw upon that for important information. In many situations, those with a sensing strength may be more practical than their counterparts.
Those with an intuitive strength draw upon internal resources for what they need to know – intuition, ideas, and potential scenarios. These kids may be more likely to daydream and approach problems with creativity and imagination.
How This Impacts Learning
While “sensors” rely upon observation, data, and what is reasonable in their learning, their intuitive counterparts tend to look at the big picture and imagine the possibilities. Imagine how differently children with these opposing types might approach a science experiment or even a journal assignment in literature. One would focus on the details and draw their conclusions from what they learn, while the other would pay attention to what is happening overall and where their imagination might take them.
Again, we are not either 100% sensor or 100% intuitive. We all have some ability to be practical and focus on what is observable through our senses. We all have some ability to identify creative possibilities and solutions to questions that are asked or problems that are posed.
I am a big believer in the importance of understanding learning styles. Had my daughter’s preschool teacher understood learning styles, she might have recognized the shy, sensing girl that is my daughter. She might have realized that, in a class of 3-year-olds that were loud and chaotic, Grace was over-stimulated. She might have realized that Grace is shy around big groups (even though she is actually an extrovert!), but opens up to individuals like the assistant teacher in the room.
Is there something that has brought out fear in you lately? Are you considering homeschooling – or already homeschooling – but wondering if you’re really cut out for it?
When I talk to homeschool moms, here’s what I often hear:
“I won’t be able to homeschool well because:
- I don’t think I’m patient enough
- I don’t have an education degree
- I looked at a homeschool catalog once – holy cow!
- I don’t have a plan for the whole year (and it’s already April!)
- I don’t feel crafty enough to do this well
- It’s too hard to homeschool all my kids at the same time
- I spent HOURS researching curriculum, but I’m still not sure I picked what is best for my kids.”
If you understand your kids’ (and your) learning styles, you have less to fear. Knowing this will help you know how to teach new information, practice, and review for each child in a way that is optimal for them. Understanding learning styles will also go a long way to helping you understand how to choose curriculum and plan the appropriate activities for each child.
And about homeschooling more than one child at a time – once you understand the learning styles of each child, even that comes a bit easier.
There’s more support out there than you think. Take, for instance, Learnwell. Learnwell Home Education Collective was created because we kept hearing the same thing from parents who were homeschooling all around the world.
They were afraid of picking out the wrong curriculum in a sea of choices.
They were afraid that they were going to miss some critical concepts as they planned out the year.
They were afraid that they didn’t have the right temperament or training to homeschool.
They were lonely and wished that they were homeschooling in community.
This isn’t a commercial, but if you have any of these fears, check us out. We are here to serve you and support you so that you can homeschool with confidence instead of fear.
Read Day 4 here