You say tomato, I say tom(ah)to …
One of the most interesting aspects of having a child is discovering who they are as they get older. Every child is smart in his or her way and learns in different ways. Early on, it is evident that children are drawn to specific things, whether it be music, building with blocks or cooking. Although parents pride themselves on knowing their children like the back of their hands,why are parents sometimes surprised by what they hear at a parent/teacher conference? Did they somehow miss something? The answer is absolutely not, they did not miss anything. What is overlooked is the fact that characteristics of a child that seem insignificant may affect them in a school environment. Knowing that your child concentrates well in complete silence, builds amazing creations with legos or enjoys reading maps are details that need to be shared with teachers. More than ever, classrooms and lessons are geared toward individual learning styles so that each student has the opportunity to show an understanding of subject matter in the most optimal way for that child.
Parents know what children like to play with at home; they see toys/activities and immediately know if their son or daughter will enjoy them. These likes/dislikes are a direct indicator of what may help them learn and thrive in a school setting. It simply comes down to putting these characteristics into three different learning styles and eight different multiple intelligences.
Learning styles are very important when interpreting information – we all fall into one category (or sometimes teeter between two) and so do our children, at a very early age. The earlier you know how your child learns, the more effective you will be at supplementing their learning at home. You can find a learning style inventory online on several different web sites. These are the three main styles:
Visual Learner – Those who learn through seeing things (needs quiet, likes colors/fashion, reading maps, diagrams)
Auditory Learner – Those who learn through hearing things (reads out loud, enjoys music, follows spoken directions well, listens to speeches or lectures)
Kinesthetic Learner – Those who learn through experiencing/doing things (sports, likes studying with loud music, builds models, role-playing, can be fidgety if confined to a seat)
Check out one of the inventories online to see what type of learner you are, as well as your child. If your child is still very young, keep this in mind for the future. You may already see signs of what type of learner they are, simply by watching them interact with their environment.
Multiple Intelligences are also important as they show how individuals are gifted in many ways other than the typical reading and math areas. Children may exhibit exceptional qualities in areas such as designing, music or acting. Often times, children who do not excel in the basic areas of school or learn in a typical fashion seem distracted or disruptive. The reality is that they might be bored and not challenged. For this reason, it is important to listen to and watch your children closely. If you see they are gifted in an area or show great interest in learning about something, foster this curiosity and let you child’s teacher know about this interest. The eight areas of multiple intelligences are: linguistic (word smart), logical (math smart), spatial (picture smart), bodily (body smart), musical (music smart), interpersonal (people smart), intrapersonal (self smart) and naturalist (nature smart). You can refer online to these multiple intelligences for a greater description/ There are also surveys to help you determine what “smarts” they favor. Try it – it may surprise you!
It is more obvious than ever that every person, young or old, learns and processes information in a unique way. As I said in one of my past entries, we always want to show our children love and acceptance, for whoever they are. School can be a confusing time for children, especially if they do not fall into one of the typical categories of learners. You always want your child to feel safe and comfortable in school; to feel that this is a place where they can express who they are and show their understanding in a way that makes sense to them. The start of the school year is quickly approaching. Doing some exploration will be a helpful tool to have as a parent and one that you can share with his/her teacher come the fall.
Always celebrate who your children are and help them grow into the most unique and self-assured people possible! Good luck!