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Learning Styles

August 16th, 2007

“Stop fidgeting! Sit nicely to do your homework!”

“Don’t stay up so late! Wake up early to finish your work.”

“I’ve told you a thousand times! Why aren’t you listening to me?”

We tend to expect children to all learn in the same way. We expect them to sit quietly while doing their homework. They should rise and shine early in the morning. They should hear our directions and know what we mean.

But in fact, children do not all learn the same way. Aren’t we adults also different in how we work best? Some of us are morning people or night people? Some of us like to have checklists, while others work better spontaneously?

In the book, The Way They Learn, author Cynthia Tobias aptly describes four different learning styles: Concrete Sequential, Abstract Sequential, Abstract Random, and Concrete Random. While no one fits neatly into one of the categories, I was able to see myself and each of my children with a strong tendency towards one of those groups.

When I read the descriptions of the various styles of learning, I began to understand why my children act the way they do. In fact, I gained a greater insight into myself.

I highly recommend this book to every parent who wants to understand his children. Identifying their learning style and having a fancy name for it does not excuse bad behavior. But when we are more educated about how our children are uniquely wired to learn and what their natural tendencies are, we will be able to help them in their areas of weakness and maximize their strength, thus we can better help them succeed. We will be able to work with their natural bent instead of insisting they do it our way.

If your child is old enough, have him read Tobias’ book too. It will reassure him that he is not the only one who is “weird.”

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