My youngest daughter loves to learn. She absorbs information as fast as I can pour it out. We were fortunate enough to find a kindergarten program that really appealed to her personality, making the start of our educational journey positive. The classroom was small and the teacher took the time to address each child’s learning style.
Unfortunately, once my daughter moved to first grade, which had a more traditional approach to learning, things started falling apart. It didn’t happen all at once. Her confidence and love of knowledge chipped away, bit by bit, with each passing year, until suddenly she had a complete meltdown. Anxiety and frustration rose as quickly as her self-esteem fell.
Hearing your fourth grader say things like, “I wish I could just go to sleep and never wake up” or “I wish I felt smart like everybody else” is devastating. Ironically, my daughter had been tagged gifted and talented early on, and yet she felt incredibly stupid. We tried different class structures to no avail, until finally, the decision to home school this year seemed the most reasonable choice.
There are various resources and structures to homeschooling, much more than I had ever imagined. We opted for something that gave us the freedom to work at our own pace, but still have a strong support system of certified teachers. The first thing our education counselor did was give our daughter a learning style assessment. I am familiar with the three basic types of learning styles: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. However, the assessment she took was much more detailed, based on something called multiple intelligence, a term I had never heard. To be perfectly honest, I would have laughed it off as some sort of new-aged thinking had someone mentioned this theory years ago.
After seeing and understanding the results of my daughter’s assessment, it was suddenly clear that her struggles in school weren’t due to a lack of understanding, but due to a lack of engagement based on her learning style. She needs a more hands on approach and the ability to move around the room. She processes information better with music on and creating visual models or making up songs. Within a couple of weeks, my depressed and anxious 10-year-old was suddenly smiling, eager to start school again. Her self-esteem has risen tenfold making it much easier for her to make decisions.
I understand that homeschool, or even private school, is not an option for most families. But you can still help your child succeed in any arena if you understand their learning style. If I had been armed with the information I have now, perhaps my daughter would have been more successful and secure in the public school system. I could have been a better advocate in the classroom, as well as known how to help her study at home, engaging her in ways that appeal to her strengths rather than highlight her weaknesses.
*Some great resources: