Quiet the Noise for a Focused School Year
Here it comes…the roar of the school buses…the slam of lockers…the excitement in the hallways…even, the deafening silence of a bedroom whose occupant has headed off to college…overall, the noise of the school year. According to countless television commercials, the school year will launch epic success if we head to a certain store, buy a specific brand, upgrade to the next this-or-that…but, for me, I just want to quiet the noise. This year, I want to include a tool that won’t fit into the backpack–it isn’t loud and flashy with upbeat pop music– and this supply will only become sharper, more focused throughout the year. Yep, I am talking about adding an academic strategy to the Back to School List.
Learning Style- The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Helping your child know their learning style is the academic equivalent of “the gift that keeps on giving.” Why is it critical that your child know and understand their learning style? Learning styles tend to fall into three (or four, depending on version) categories: Aural (hearing), Visual (seeing), or Kinesthetic (physical touch). Because that’s how we take in knowledge, apply what we have learned, and demonstrate that comprehension. By having that self-awareness, students are able to process instruction in ways that make sense to them and ask clarifying questions in the classroom. When completing homework, projects, or self-directed learning, kids will be able to find material that provides information in a manner that “speaks” to them.
Learning Style- Where Do We Start?
Learning style inventories are available in multiple forms online or in various publications. One of the easiest to navigate and understand is The VARK Questionnaire www.vark-learn.com. This simple questionnaire walks the student (or parent) through multiple choice questions, each question is given a point value and then it tallies the results. Depending on how the numbers fall into the different learning styles, a clear style may quickly emerge…or require a little more investigation may be necessary. Then VARK-Learn includes a variety of different suggestions to apply your specific style(s).
Learning Style- Now What?
Remember when we mentioned school supplies that sharpen over time, not dull? Learning style is a new awareness for many students. This is a new supply to add to their personal learning toolbox. Teachers and administrators have discussed learning styles for years and often present classroom content to address each style. But we simply haven’t spent as much time unwrapping personal learning style as a tool for each learner. Just identifying a specific style isn’t enough…encourage your child to use their newfound self awareness. By sharing information with their teacher or practicing asking for content to be delivered in their “style”, ownership shifts. We don’t simply want a label…we want a tool that works for our kids (year after year).
Learning Style- Really, Now What?
Once you have a sense of your child’s learning style (just like you know their personal love of clothing styles, movies/books, sports, or hobbies), make it part of your family dialogue. Anytime discussing learning a skill, completing a project, describing an experience, notice the words used and connect them back to their specific style. Listen to how a non-school related learning experience is described and consider applying those same strategies to studying for academic lessons. For example: When my son (auditory learner) describes his favorite football players and their stats, he often references content he has heard broadcast and remembers, we then use similar learning methods to tackle studying for science and math skills. Help break down the barriers between independent learning experiences (often the skills that most excite our children) and materials outlined as part of their school curriculum. Learning is learning.
Rachel Seats, M.Ed., is a wife, mother, and educator. She is the founder of Seats 4 Success. Seats 4 Success offers academic coaching, accountability coaching, and mentorship for teens and college students. To learn more about Rachel Seats and her services, please visit: seats4success.com or call Rachel @ 540-847-5646.