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10/21/2010 10:19:33 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter--October 2010

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter
October 2010--How Do They Learn?
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Dear Friends,

Children learn best if they can place new material in the context of
what they already know, sort of like having "hooks" on which to hang
the new material. Jesus did this with his disciples, every time he
said, "Ye have heard it said... I say unto you...."

They also need to understand the relevance of what they are learning:
"What am I trying to learn and why do I need to know this?" They need
a clear picture of the goal toward which they are working.

Imagine handing your child a thousand-piece puzzle. Do you give him
all the pieces with no box, and expect him to put it all together? Or
do you give him the pieces with a picture so he can see what it should
look like when he is finished? He will probably group all the sky
together first, or build the straight-edged border first and then add
on from there--beginning with what is familiar to him (his hooks) and
fitting the new pieces in from there.

Your child's natural strength and learning preference is his learning
style. The sensory way he remembers things is his learning modality.

According to Cynthia Tobias in The Way They Learn,
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9436 five guidelines can help you
understand how your child learns and processes new material best:

1. Observe patterns of behavior. When your child experiences success,
what were the circumstances?

2. Listen to how he communicates with you. This is generally what he
needs back.

3. Experiment with what works and what doesn't. Keep an open mind. We
don't all learn the same way.

4. Focus on natural strengths, not just weaknesses. It's easier to
pinpoint weaknesses and work on them, but we should also build on the
strengths. This gives us a better foundation!

5. Learn more about learning styles in general. Pay attention to your
child and to yourself.

We all overlap in the different categories, so use your learning
styles results as a guideline, not as a hard-and-fast rule or to label
your child. The goal is to help you find ways to unlock your child's
mind to be receptive to the knowledge and information you want to
input. In other words: He is accountable to let you know the key isn't
fitting--not to make it fit! Your job is to find the right key.

Learning Styles

Dr. Anthony Gregorc's model of learning styles is the basis of many
studies and approaches to learning:

PERCEPTION is how we take in or seek out information to gain
knowledge:

The concrete learner utilizes the senses, dealing with what is here
and now, the obvious. He may have challenges looking for hidden
meanings, subtle clues, or trying to make connections between ideas or
concepts. What you see is what you get! The abstract learner
visualizes or conceives ideas, to understand what he can't see. Think:
intuition, imagination, intellect.

We use both, but which is dominant? This will influence how your child
best learns new information. By the way, almost all young children
start out as concrete thinkers, but as they mature, some develop
greater abstract thinking abilities than others.

ORDERING is the way we use the information we perceive, or how we sort
information to reach conclusions:

The sequential learner follows a step by step, logical train of
thought and prefers a conventional approach with a plan. He follows
the steps. On the other hand, the random thinker organizes information
in chunks, skips steps, and still produces desired results. He might
even start in middle or end and work backwards. Sometimes he seems
impulsive or spontaneous, and doesn't seem to have a plan!

We are all a bit of both styles, but which is dominant? This will
influence what your child does with the information he gathers.

Again, I stress that there is great overlap as we evaluate learning
styles because most of us have a combination of learning styles, but
we are usually dominant in one style. One of the most fascinating
realizations, as I read through Cynthia Tobias' book, was that the
little "synopsis" page for each learning style (at the end of each
style chapter) was written in a format that would be attractive to
that particular style. I figured that out when I had trouble
concentrating on or "following" any of the pages other than that of my
dominant style!

How does your child concentrate?

Where should he study? How quiet should it be? What about lighting? Is
the temperature okay? What about food? You might have him draw a
picture of the ideal study place, then do an experiment: For 2-3
weeks, let him pick where, how, when to study. If he gets his work
done well, he's okay. If not, he goes by your methods. If your child
has trouble identifying preferences, try options. Let him study in
noisy room and in quiet room, in bright room and dimmer room, etc.

How does he remember?

While we use many of our senses to take in the information, to
understand and remember what we are learning, there is usually one
that is more dominant. This is called our learning modality. These
learning modalities are generally divided into three categories, with
sub-categories:

1. Visual
a) Pictures
b) Words

2. Auditory
a) Listening
b) Verbal

3. Kinesthetic/tactile

Notice that it is possible for your child to be auditory and still
have trouble processing things he hears, if he processes by speaking,
not hearing (verbal vs. listening). He may need to talk through things
to work out a solution for himself.

He may be visual and still not be able to follow a map, but be able to
follow written directions well and to remember them by their position
on a page. When I had to recollect information for a test, I could
often recall the material by visualizing the words on my notebook
page.

A kinesthetic learner needs to move to process information. The
movement may not be remotely related to the material, but he still
needs that motor movement to process (pacing, stepping up steps with
each math fact, riding an exercise bike, etc.).

A tactile learner must be touching things, squeezing a ball, building
with Legos, coloring, etc. This is the learner who needs sandpaper
letters, lots of manipulatives, etc. Kinesthetic and tactile learners
are great candidates for lots of hands-on activities (look at Konos
for starters, or be sure to incorporate lots of activities into your
other curriculum). http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9437

How does he understand?

Although some learning assessments include this as a separate part of
learning styles, it seems to often run parallel to concrete vs.
abstract (or left brained vs. right brained).

The analytical learner is detail oriented, left brained, and tends to
prefer to work alone. He is very logical and self motivated. He often
finds the facts but misses the main idea. Do you remember having to
analyze literature in high school? I never "got it" till someone
pointed out the hidden meaning. In an inductive Bible study, I had
trouble with the initial overview and was usually the only one who
didn't recognize the big picture without lots of help! For a long
time, I just thought I was dense; now I know that I see the details.
In other words, an analytical learner "can't see the forest for the
trees." An analytical person gets frustrated by not being able to
complete something before going on to the next task, by having to deal
with generalities, and by not feeling prepared for the task at hand.

Global learners are relational, "big picture," right brained, and tend
to be people persons. They see the relationships between things and
can "read between the lines." They often see many options for
solutions or processes. They need to be able to relate what they are
doing to "real life."

Our children are unique

The goal in evaluating their learning styles is not to "label" our
children or put them in the proverbial education box, but to
understand what makes sense to them, what frustrates them (or us!),
and how we can best help them to process, understand, and use their
knowledge.


Concretely and sequentially yours,

Vicki B.

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years coordinator


"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works..." (Psalm 139:14 NKJV)

Additional Resources

"Learning Styles Resources" -
Many links to helpful resources, books, articles, and assessments
(HSLDA Early Years)
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9438

"Know Your Students: Identify Their Personal Learning Styles"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9439 by Inge Cannon
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9440

AppLe St. (Applied Learning Styles) - Cynthia Tobias' website
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9441

Home Ed Expert is a tool developed by home schooling specialists to
help you find the curricula and resources that best fit your goals and
teaching style, as well as your students' unique needs and learning
styles. http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9442

"Five Models of Learning Styles" by Mary E. Askew; The Teaching Home
e-newsletter No. 256 http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9443

"Five Children: Five Personalities" by Joy Marie Dunlap; The Teaching
Home e-newsletter No. 256 http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9444

Do you seem to have a "struggling learner" who seems frustrated
despite all your efforts to work within his learning style? Visit
HSLDA's Homeschooling a Struggling Learner section
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=9445, and to help you overcome a
learning glitch, HSLDA coordinator Dianne offers helpful resources and
information at www.diannecraft.org.

Parts of this newsletter were excerpted or adapted from Home Education
101 by Vicki Bentley or adapted from points in Cynthia Tobias' They
Way They Learn. For more detailed information, see Cynthia's materials
at www.applest.com/.

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-> How long are you in for?

Some families are facing what seems like a lifelong commitment to
homeschooling, with children at both ends of the spectrum -- some
graduating and some just reaching school age. If you're going to
be "in" for a while, consider a lifetime membership with HSLDA.
It's a good deal for families with more than 10 years of
homeschooling ahead.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1936

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