Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Learning style

Recently, my boys were tested on their knowledge of what they have learned in school. Since "we" home-school, I was a nervous wreck during the week of testing. Once I received the results I couldn't/wouldn't open it for several days.

My thoughts were random. Those wonderful self conversations went something like this:

"What if my kids fail the Iowa State Test?"
"That's fine. Whatever. I'll blame the teacher."
"Oh! #@$! I am the teacher!"
"Well.  I'll just send them back to school"
"Yeah. Right! Here comes Jethro! 21 and still in third grade!"

As I suspected! My children are stupid and it's totally their teacher Mother Father's fault!!

There. I said it. Now I can breathe and put down the bag of chocolate Oreo cookies. Okay, yeah. One more won't hurt.  Shoot! There all gone??!  Who ate all the coo...

And that's when I decided that I really needed help. No. Not with the cookies. With learning about the way  my children learn.  Meeting them where they are and not where I would like them to be. SO. For a few weeks during the summer. I put aside all of our "study" books and began reading a book by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. called The way they learn. How to discover and teach to your child's strengths.

In reading this book I had to rediscover the way I learn. One thing which has come to my attention is the awareness of several dominant learning styles. As we develop and mature over time we often mask or adjust our learning styles to fit our environment instead of allowing our environment to fit us.

Okay, so this may not be a great revelation to a lot of people, but it was to me..I'm not sure that I really put much thought it the way I learn things over the years. I went to school. Sat down at my desk and for the most part did what I was told. When I was told. How I was told. And that's pretty much the way I have run our home-school.

Many people may disagree with homeschooling. Feeling that children need to adapt to all of life's situations no matter what. That's life. Deal with it. End of story. However, My son Brian who appears aloof to a lot of people, and bit impulsive. Is the kid that would be kicked out of the classroom, often exasperating the teacher and sent to the principles office for not conforming.

Alexander on the other hand, appears to be organized and gives great attention to detail. He's the kid that would come home with bundles and bundles of homework every night because he spent to much time on one project trying to perfect the assignment that the teacher assigned. Always remaining as the teachers pet but  his loving parents would be up all night finishing the work he started at 8 am that morning.

While James our oldest often seems to need reassurance and acceptance with a lot of praise and acceptance. He's extremely bright but was the child that took most of the hits as a youngster and was often bullied so other kids would feel better about themselves.

Each one of them are so different and actually tested on or above grade level on the Iowa test. Brian, can learn basically anywhere, with a bunch of distractions and most usually is the distraction with a lot of tapping and standing while learning BUT he learns. Alexander needs a bit of nature around his environment with a quiet serene surrounding and a specific deadline to finish with a set timer. While James needs to be able to move around in a quiet comfortable room with soft light and little distractions.

Now,  I can work around a few distractions but benefit mostly in a bright warm environment. Outside running in the warm sun at the park near a meadow without bugs and other creatures and a package of Oreo cookies is perfect for me.

For the past few years of homeschooling I have pretty much created a very structured environment and although luckily we don't have a Jethro yet. "What? Speak American! Uncle Jed!"  Well then. How does one put all of these things into action and make their homeschooling experience a successful one barring serious weight gain? Thank you Cynthia! My new best friend.

Yep. It only took two or three (or twenty) years BUT  I have begun to realize that I have put a great many demands and stress on my boys.

With this new year, I hope to implement a new approach to the way we learn. Although we will be covering much of the same material, I hope to change the way we learn with a bit of each persons personality giving way to another. Therefore, making it a joy of learning instead of a chore of learning.

Hopefully, I will be able to update as the year progresses. However, I may start on the next book by Cynthia Tobias entitled Every child can succeed. (yippee!)  Who knows where they could end up!

Wish me luck! Better yet, with my high quality organizational skills I'd like to possess perhaps it's best to wish my kids luck.