What part does orderliness have to do with learning? We all know about the messies and the neatniks, but let’s put these into an academic context. On the one hand, we have the sequential/concrete learners (mostly the neatniks). On the other hand, we have the global/random learners (usually the messies). Sequential learners need to learn things one at a time in an orderly fashion. They’re building their foundations one brick at a time. The concrete part means that they need to see, hear, feel, or touch it. Abstract concepts are usually difficult for the concrete learner to grasp.
Global learners prefer to see/know the whole picture all at once. While they may still get from point A to point B, they usually don’t take the most conventional route. Their minds jump randomly from one thought to another. Abstract concepts are much more easily grasped for this type of learner.
These categories barely scratch the surface of learning styles, but they give you a starting point. I don’t pretend to be an expert on learning styles, so instead I’ll recommend some resources in the appendix. In addition, merely doing an Internet search on “learning styles” nets a plethora of definitions, quizzes, and websites.
My children are not one-size-fits-all when it comes to learning styles. So if you’re homeschooling more than one child, how do you accommodate their various learning styles without going insane yourself? By maintaining balance. Unless you have twins (and sometimes even if you do), most children will be on different levels for phonics/reading and math skills. Since these subjects form the foundation for all other learning to take place, I would strongly urge you to accommodate each child’s learning style in these two topics. While it’s helpful financially to be able to reuse curriculum, it’s more efficient in the long run to use what’s most effective with each child, especially in the elementary and middle school years. For the other subjects such as history and science, choose curricula that will accommodate the majority of your children, and then make adjustments as necessary. We are masters of the curriculum; it is not to master us.
What are your preferences? Do you thrive on structure or do you hate it? How important is it that your curriculum has a biblical worldview? Do you think your children should be able to choose what to study or do you believe that they don’t have enough knowledge to do so? Spend some time thinking and praying about these questions before you plunk down money for a pricey curriculum that you may end up hating. Knowing your children’s learning styles will enable you to tailor your homeschool teaching to your children, which will enable them to thrive.
Bethany LeBedz is a veteran homeschooler, professional editor, writer, and speaker. You can check out her business website at www.bethanylebedz.com. Bethany contributes regularly to Heart of the Matter Online, has a regular column in the Home School Enrichment magazine, and occasionally writes for other magazines, websites, and newsletters. She lives in North Carolina with her family and she enjoys music, reading, scrapbooking, sewing, genealogy, and keeping up with friends in her spare time. Be sure to follow her blog, Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom, at www.bethanylebedz.blogspot.com.