Learning Styles & Ah-Ha Moments

I was chatting with my friend about homeschool, public and private education, and right-brained versus left-brained learners. Since I have a couple of right-brained kids – one a little more than the other, and I personally am all over the place, schizophrenic-brained, I think. Or maybe it’s ambidextrous-brained? Anyway . . . I was reminded of two very clear, defining moments during which I became acutely aware of certain things about my youngest son and his personal bent.

The first was back in 3rd grade while he was still in public school. Worksheets were sent home Monday through Thursday utilizing the spelling words. On Wednesdays, he was to write a paragraph using about 10 of those words. For this particular week, he was to write about an “everyday activity.” He was very frustrated and kept insisting he couldn’t do it. Granted, some weeks the words were NOT very conducive to the topic they (the curriculum folks) assigned. However, this didn’t seem insurmountable. Since we had just had a yard sale recently, I told him he could write about a yard sale and proceeded to give him a few ideas for using the assigned words. He looked at me very seriously and said, “But we don’t have a yard sale every day.”

Ah ha!

The second moment took place in his 5th grade class. Still in public school. Another language arts assignment – this one required him to read a short story; about 3-4 pages long, and then complete some questions. He was to write three things that were interesting about each of the three children in the story. Once again, I got the complaints of “I can’t do it!” I asked if he’d like me to read the story with him – maybe he needed a review. Nope, he’d already read it a couple of times and he knew what it said. So I began reading it and started to comment. As I listed some things about the children and their interests, I mentioned that their likes and interests were similar to my son's, and gee, wasn’t that interesting? Again, the very serious look with “That’s not interesting, that’s plain.” I said that it was kind of interesting that they were like him and with the same serious look got “I’m not supposed to write about how they’re like me. I’m supposed to write what’s interesting about them. There’s nothing interesting about them.”

Ah ha!

He wasn’t trying to be difficult in either situation (or many others in his educational career), he’s just wired a little differently and he truly could not come up with answers that fit what was being asked of him. This caused extreme frustration, because he genuinely “could not do it.” Many things are very black and white and trying to explain it in shades of gray just doesn’t fly.

These are the moments I have to remember as I seek to educate him at home. He’s a very intelligent boy, but it has to make sense to him, it has to be presented in a way that works in his paradigm because he truly cannot grasp it any other way. And that’s okay – God made him this way and God can enable me to teach to his strengths.

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