Homeschooling: Four Types of Learners
For a more effective homeschooling journey, understand the four types of learners and identify which type your child is.
Among the many unique challenges of homeschooling is determining the most effective teaching style that resonates most with your child. This, of course, is also likely a big part of the reason why you’ve chosen a homeschooling journey in the first place: to foster a more supportive and enriching learning environment.
To understand how best to teach, however, you must first understand how your child learns best, because when it comes to learning, one size certainly does not fit all.
Throughout history, scientists and psychologists have worked to develop a number of models and theories in order to better understand the different ways people learn. One of the most popular theories is known as the VARK model. It defines four primary types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.
Four Types of Learners
According to the VARK Model, these are the four types of learners:
This model, which expands upon earlier Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) models, was pioneered and launched by New Zealand teacher and researcher Neil Fleming in 1987.
Fleming found that each learning type responds better to a certain method of teaching, but that most individuals are in fact multimodal learners. In other words, children are a little bit of each learning type. But they will likely have a preferred style that helps them process information more efficiently.
Knowing these four learning modalities can help homeschooling families find solutions to help their children learn and study more effectively and with less stress.
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Learn about the four learning styles below along with how to determine which your child might be and how best to teach them.
Visual learners have immensely vivid imaginations and process information in pictures, visualizing relationships and ideas in order to understand them. You can have an area in your family room dedicated to visual representations of your homeschooling lessons.
Your child may be a visual learner if they:
- become impatient or unfocused when required to listen for extended periods of time.
- prefer to work alone rather than in groups.
- doodle in their notebooks.
- enjoy reading and other periods of quiet time.
When teaching, try to incorporate maps, diagrams, and other ways of visually explaining information and relationships between topics and ideas in your homeschooling lessons. Also encourage the use of flashcards as a study tool and leverage color coding where applicable.
As the name suggests, auditory learners process information best when given the opportunity to listen to it.
Your child may be an auditory learner if they:
- read and speak in a calculated manner.
- get distracted easily by other noises.
- lose focus when forced to work alone quietly for long periods of time.
- talk through problems out loud, even to themselves.
If you have a predominantly auditory learner, a great tool to use is a student-friendly homeschool video curriculum. Video is actually a great tool for all kinds of learners as it engages multiple senses and can be leveraged in a number of ways. Also consider making audiobook versions of any homeschooling text materials available. Then encourage your child to record lessons to listen to again later.
Readers and Writers
Reading and writing learners do very well with traditional education programs that rely heavily on textbooks and notetaking. Essentially, interacting with the written word is more powerful than looking at images or listening to information explained out loud.
Your child may be a reading and writing learner if they:
- love reading and writing.
- write detailed notes and lists.
Encourage your child to rewrite their homeschooling notes as a way to study. Also provide them with annotated versions of presentations so they can read along with you. Additionally, allow space for them to add their own thoughts and reactions. Written “quizzes” are also a great tool for helping them work out what they’ve learned.
Kinesthetic learners retain information by being demonstrative. This is the type of learner you can think of when people say “hands-on.” They learn best by doing and acting out concepts.
Your child may be a kinesthetic learner if they:
- Enjoy sports.
- Thrive doing art.
- Spend free time building things.
- Have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time.
Structure lessons around activities your child can participate in and that gets them up and moving around. Really, all children can benefit from learning activities that get them moving. Don’t take objects away from them that you feel may be distracting them.
On the contrary, throwing a tennis ball around or walking while reviewing homeschooling notes helps kinesthetic learners process information. Also make sure to schedule in frequent study breaks.
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