Embrace Your Family’s Unique Learning Styles

Post written by Zen Family Habits contributor Suzannah. Follow her on Twitter.

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.

15 Responses to “Embrace Your Family’s Unique Learning Styles”

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  1. I agree that each child learns differently. My 9 and 7 year old go to a public school which they enjoy and are thriving in. My 4 year old is in a preschool he dislikes very much which causes him to have a lot of anxiety. Because of this, he is not learning at the rate “the teacher” believes he should be. I have been toying with the idea of homeschooling him but feel an incredible amount of pressure because of it. I work from home and do not want my other children to feel left out.

  2. One of the things I loved about being homeschooled, especially looking back on it now, is that it allowed me to learn in my own style, rather than forcing me to try to learn in the one style that was taught.

    This doesn’t just end when we graduate, either – my learning style still affects me every single day.

    Great post, Suzannah!

  3. Great post! i am curious now… I’ll have to get to know my kids’ learning styles better.

  4. Roblynn says:

    That is what makes home schooling so much fun, mixing it all up :)

  5. There’s a great book that would be awesome for parent’s looking to learn how to identify their family’s learning strengths – it’s “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less” by Nicholas Boothman. Great tips for finding someone’s ‘type’ quickly and effectively.

    http://www.amazon.com/Make-People-Like-Seconds-Less/dp/0761149465/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266622576&sr=8-1

  6. Cathy B says:

    So true! Just like there are different kinds of intelligence. Some kids’ strengths are not recognized in school because they are not academic but those qualities are what will help them succeed as adults.

  7. vina says:

    This is so right up my alley. My hubby is more linear/logical thinker and me, well I’m just all over the place! No, not really, but more of a connect the dots kinda of person, and I think my daughter is too! Maybe it’s too early to tell, I hope I’m not projecting! Great post!

  8. Thank you for all your comments! I’m really glad this has been helpful to you all.
    @Steffan: Thanks for that recommendation as well :)

  9. MsMarm says:

    By what diagnostic can we identify our children’s learning styles at 2 years old? at 3 years old? at 4 years old? at 5 years old?

    What do we look for?

    Might it be useful to identify OUR OWN learning styles?

  10. Even though we may have preferred learning styles, it is also true that we can sometimes benefit from learning styles we may not automatically plump for! That’s why I particularly like number 4. Sometimes both adults and children close themselves off to new activities and ways of doing things and that goes for learning as much as anything else.

  11. @MsMarm:

    Absolutely, it’s important to figure out your own learning style(s). I’m not exactly sure about very young children, but you can learn a great deal through observation. Do they eagerly respond to music? Are they gregarious, wanting to socialize a lot? Are they drawn to brightly coloured pictures?

  12. Hester says:

    I enjoy browsing your web sites. Thanks!

  13. ChloenBeth says:

    Nicolas February 24, 2012 at 11:22 AMThis week I leenard try to not use the word then over and over again, and we leenard pirate words, we leenard a new type of poem it’s called limericks poem , and that peter and the star catchers is a pirate book.What I did well is not use the word then over and over again.What I would do better is learning pirate words.My new goal is to try writing neat and write neater in my L,A, book

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