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The beauty of homeschooling is individualized education. Even if you use a pre-packaged curriculum, you can structure your day and lessons how your child learns best. People often ask, “What’s the best homeschool curriculum?” (hint: The answer has to do with learning styles.)
It’s something I see frequently online, posted by new homeschool moms who are desperate to get it “right.” The answer is simple. The best homeschool curriculum is the one your child needs. So, there is no wrong answer. Now, some curriculum programs are more user friendly than others. However, any resource or program can be adapted to fit your needs. Extra practice can be added. Busy work can be eliminated.
Every child has special needs, and more special gifts. Because of these gifts and needs, each child learns differently. This difference is called learning style. There are several different learning style models or systems. Some say there are three learning styles. Others list seven styles. These models are helpful when you know nothing about learning styles. However, no one model is exhaustive. Every child has his own personal learning style.
Taking the time to learn about how your child learns is vital. The reason so many children struggle in brick and mortar schools is because, even with differentiated instruction, teachers cannot serve everyone’s needs at once. Schools need to be efficient and ordered. They are designed to move children through a system. All children must learn x, y, and z, in exactly that order, and in a set amount of time. However that is not how brain development works. Some children will learn y quickly, then take years to master x and z. Others learn a, b, and c, when they “should be learning x, y, and z. Then there is the child who seems to be learning nothing, but suddenly learns the whole alphabet at once.
Standards and Flexibility
There are core skills (think of the 3 R’s) that every child needs. Letting children learn how they learn best does not mean abandoning all structure or standards. If anything, teaching how children learn will take them much farther than following a set progression guideline. How can you serve your child’s learning gifts without burning out?
- Be willing to try something new.
- Include your child in planning decisions. (According to his age and ability.)
- Focus on what your child does well.
- Promote self-directed learning.
- Fix what isn’t working.
- Use lesson plans as a guide, not a Bible.
- Do a learning style inventory.
How do you use learning styles in your homeschool?