I recently finished reading Cathy Duffy’s book: “100 Tops Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.” If you have not read this book, I highly suggest it. Your may even be fortunate enough to be able to borrow a copy from your local library. In her books, she does not only detail some amazing homeschool curricula, but she also devotes a major part of the book to discussing and helping you assess your learning style and the learning styles of your children.
Reading this book took my mind back to my time in college when I studies all about the different learning styles, sometimes referred to as multiple intelligences. I also remembered how important it is to know not only the learning styles of your children, but your learning style (and ultimately your teaching style) as well. When you know what methods of learning that you prefer, you will know what types of curricula you are most comfortable with teaching. Also, when you know the preferred learning styles of your children, you will have insight into how they learn best as well.
Howard Gardner spent significant time studying and formulating a list of the seven intelligences during his life. The seven intelligences that he devised are (Smith, 2002):
- Linguistic intelligence
- Logical-mathematical intelligence
- Musical intelligence
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
- Spatial intelligence
- Interpersonal intelligence
- Intrapersonal intelligence
You can get a very thorough explanation of each of these intelligences if you visit infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm. However, for a quick reference, here is a brief description of each of the intelligences (Armstrong, 2000):
- Linguistic intelligence – “word smart”
- Logical-mathematical intelligence – “number/reasoning smart”
- Musical intelligence – “music smart”
- Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence – “body smart” (especially the sense of touch)
- Spatial intelligence – “picture smart”
- Interpersonal intelligence – “people smart”
- Intrapersonal intelligence – “self smart”
So, how does all this apply to homeschooling? Well, there are a plethora of curricula out there and often it is very difficult to choose the best one for your children and family. Each of your children might do best with a different type of curriculum. Since we all want out children to learn to their fullest potential, knowing their personal learning style will greatly assist you in choosing the right curriculum for each of your children.
Why do I need to know MY learning style? This is another important area. You must know your learning style as well because the way you learn will often correlate with the ways that you prefer to teach your children as well. If you know the ways that you prefer to teach, and know the ways that your children prefer to learn, then it is much easier to find curriculum choices that can suit you both, even though sometimes that means trying to find curriculum that is more of a happy medium so that you both can be happy in the learning process.
How can I find out my learning style and the learning styles of my children? I have gathered several free online assessments that can help you to do this. However, most of the ones I found are not geared towards young children being able to complete them themselves. You may have to think about each of your children and complete the form or complete it with you child, asking him or her some questions as you go. If you prefer an assessment geared towards your younger child, I suggest the Teele Inventory, which can be purchased for around $25 from Sue Teel’s Website at: sueteele.com/teele_inventory.html. I used this assessment multiple times during my teaching career and found the results to not only be very interesting, but also provided me with valuable information about each of my students. In completing the inventory, I was able to know which styles each of them preferred and was able to attempt to better meet their personal learning style needs.
So, if you wish to do this for your family, here are some free assessments that you can use:
- Learning Assessment for Adults: engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html
- Assessment for All Ages: agelesslearner.com/assess/learningstyle.html (you may have to complete this one with your rather than letting him or her complete it independently)
- All Ages: learning-styles-online.com/inventory/ – Click on: “free online learning styles inventory” (you may also have to complete this one with your child)
- Learning Style Assessments for Child Learning Style, Adult Learning Style, and Teaching Style: homeschoolviews.com/quiz/quiz.html
- Assessment Chart: chaminade.org/inspire/learnstl.htm
In closing, I do hope that you enjoyed this article and would look into finding out the learning styles of all the members of your family. When I did it, I found out that my oldest learns very similarly to me (linguistic and interpersonal), my middle child prefers logical-mathematical learning, and my youngest is a strong bodily-kinesthetic learner. Although I pretty much knew where my younger two would fall, I was very surprised by my oldest child’s results. I had been having problems getting through to her during our lessons and was not sure why. After finding out this information, and seeing just exactly how much alike she and I are in our learning preferences, I was able to adjust my strategies slightly so that she will get more out of her lessons. I hope that you and your family will find the results helpful so that all of you can have a happier and more productive time learning together.
Copyright © Alicia Tucker, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved
About the Author: Alicia Tucker is a homeschool mom of 3 children, after having worked in public schools in NJ and SC for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Sociology, as well as a Master’s degree in Education with a specialization in Curriculum and Technology. Alicia is also Moms of Faith assistant and columnist.