There are many different theories about learning styles and multiple intelligences. Each underscores the idea that we are all individuals, with unique ways of learning and perceiving the world.
While you needn’t endorse any one of these theories in particular, it’s important to understand the ideas behind them. No two children think alike, act alike, react alike. Treating children the same, and teaching them in the same ways, can be detrimental to their learning, as well as their confidence.
Consider each individual’s unique abilities as learning strengths.
Some of the different types of styles/strengths are:
- Visual. Learning through pictures, diagrams, video, printed materials
- Physical. Using one’s hands and body to learn new concepts
- Auditory/Musical. The ability to learn through listening to speech and sounds, or to apply musical knowledge to other areas of learning
- Logical. Seeing things from a logical, scientific or mathematical standpoint
- Interpersonal. Connecting with others on a meaningful level, and to learning through interaction
- Intrapersonal. Learning through self-awareness and reflection
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of the different learning styles, and there’s no black-and-white way to define them. People can have one dominant style, or any combination of strengths.
Your style of learning determines how you see the world, to a certain degree. It also determines what kind of things you enjoy doing for fun.
Within any given household, chances are each member has a style all his or her own. So, how can you adapt your family experiences to suit the needs of everyone?
1. Find out what makes each member tick. Try an online learning styles quiz, or simply ask each other questions so you can discover how your family learns best.
2. Rotate family activities based on preferences. One weekend might be sports in the park; the next might be a film at the movie theatre. Give each family member a day to choose an activity, and make sure everyone participates each week.
3. Consider sensitivities. Maybe one of your children is particularly athletic, and another is quietly artistic. Perhaps you’re the logical type, and your partner is creative. Whatever the mix in your household, be sure to show sensitivity toward others who have different strengths. No one style is better than another.
4. Respectfully drag one another out of comfort zones. With the right support, your family members will learn to push their boundaries and be able to enjoy different activities. The key is not to force, but to encourage.
5. Consider effects of learning styles. One of your children might receive high grades in academic subjects (math, English, languages), and lower grades in practical subjects (physical education, health, social skills). Or, the opposite could be true. Remember, no one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something.
We’re not all the same. We don’t learn the same ways, and we don’t all enjoy the same activities. But, within the context of love and support, we can learn to respect others’ styles and strengths, and perhaps even expand our own horizons.