I know that many of you around the country have been in and out of in-person learning for the past year. Here in Los Angeles, preschools didn’t really close for too long as they are not lumped with K-12 education. But elementary/middle/high schools in this area are finally all going back to school this week.
With Take our Daughters and Sons to Word Day approaching, and schools finally heading back to in-person days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the status of education in 2021. Well, that’s not 100% honest. I think about the status of our educational system daily, and have been for quite some time.
The Way Kids Learn
If I have learned anything over the past decade of my career, it is really that there is not just one way for everyone to learn. Everyone learns differently. This is a complete contradiction from what I once thought.
When I was in elementary school we all learned the same thing, the same way. If you were successful, you got As and felt smart. If you weren’t you got Cs, Ds or Fs and did not feel smart. Some kids were ‘book smart’ while others were ‘street smart’.
When my oldest niece started school, we noticed that for some reason, as intelligent as she was, she was just not understanding basic educational concepts. We also noticed that math was now suddenly taught in a completely different way then we learned it (but that’s a discussion for another time 😉).
My sister almost pulled out all her hair (and she has A LOT) trying to get the educational system to understand that her daughter did not need to be taught the same information as the rest of the class but at a slower pace. My niece’s processing speed was not the problem. What she did need was to be taught the information in a way that SHE would be able to comprehend it.
It took about 4 years, but my sister finally found the exact right school and right fit for my niece. Conventional classrooms and education were not for her. My niece needed to find teachers that would spend the time to really figure her out and find ways to teach her so that she would digest the information and synthesize all that was being taught. Today, as a sophomore in high school, my niece is in honors and AP classes, getting As and thriving.
Different Learning Styles
Did you know that there are actually 4 different learning styles?
- Those who learn through seeing.
- These individuals internalize and synthesize information when it is presented to them visually in a meaningful way. They tend to respond well to arrows, charts, and diagrams. And they often love to use a variety of colors!
- Those who learn through hearing.
- These individuals learn through participation in discussion and through verbal direction. Auditory learners don’t always take notes because they may find it distracting…so don’t think they aren’t paying attention!
- Tactile (sometimes called Read/Write)
- Those who learn through touch (i.e. doodling, drawing).
- These individuals love PowerPoint slide presentations as well as the opportunity to take extremely detailed notes on those slides as the process of writing and rereading those notes helps them synthesize the information. Don’t tease someone for wanting to write notes instead of typing them…that writing is helping them process information!
- Those who learn through moving and doing.
- These individuals are hands-on learners that need to take a physical role in the learning process. These are the learners that have the most difficulty learning in a conventional classroom setting. They excel when you turn learning into a game or fun activity. Also, go ahead and give them that stress ball that’s been lying around…they can squeeze it while they study to help integrate other parts of the body into the learning process.
The Future of Education
My niece’s experience and the experience of my clients often has me thinking about the state of our education system and what the future careers of our children will be. Is it really important that kids learn math 7 different ways according to the Common Core curriculum? Or is it more important that they learn the value and skills of networking and working as a team?
I often find myself telling parents that the excellence of a school is not what’s important. You may send your child to the #1 school in the city, that has a conventional curriculum and teaches all children the same. But what if YOUR child does not succeed there? Does that mean your child is not intelligent? Or that the school is bad? No, it simply means that this ‘excellent school’ may not be the right school for YOUR child.
Awareness of Learning Style
My daughter, P, is a singer (like her mommy). She walks around the house making up songs to every day tasks. She remembers songs that she’s heard once or twice and can typically repeat back information that she has heard or listened to. I think she may be an auditory learner. T, my 18-month-old son, tends to learn things differently. I think he may be a kinesthetic learner. Obviously, he’s too young to really know, but I can tell you that he puts his whole body into anything and everything he does.
Do you know what kind of learner your child is? I’m not suggesting that everyone run out and test your children to find out what type of learner they are. What I am recommending it to observe. Observe your child, early. How do they tend to remember information? How do they learn new skills?
Your child may learn in a VERY different way than you do. Teaching them to study according to what worked for you may not be successful and can actually end up being very frustrating. Just because I learn by writing notes in a variety of colors, does not mean that P and T will learn the same way.
Noticing early in life how your child learns may help you all in the future. 😊