Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reader Question: Does Teaching A Child According to His Learning Style Prepare Him for the Real World?

It seems that last week's guest post about homeschooling stirred up a bit of controversy. A reader had some comments about it that I decided to pass on to you in my own paraphrase. Feel free to comment whether you homeschool or not. I'd love to hear all of your opinions.

Donna spoke about discovering your child's learning style and teaching them accordingly. A reader thought that would not prepare them for the real world because a boss will assign work to one as it needs done not according to one's learning style. The comment was made that if he (yes, I have a few male readers--bless your hearts--I'll try to be easy on you!) were to tell his boss that he worked best by listening to music that his boss was likely to tell him to find another job. He was also concerned that this would teach children that they are the ultimate deciding factor of what they learn rather than the authority figure. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? And why or why not? (Oops....that may be phrased for those whose learning style is the essay question...are there really any people that learn that way? Never mind....)


  1. I homeschool and I have two very different little girls:-) One is outgoing and really takes on "fast moving" curriculum least with math and the like. She also took to reading like you wouldn't believe. She is confident and sociable. My other daughter is shy, easily discouraged and tends to be more "hands on" with math like subjects. She is beginning to read but it is slower going with her.
    In a public/private school setting, they expect the kids to keep up no matter what. This can easily make one who learns better a different way, fail. I believe my younger daughter would be far behind if in an environment where there was no flexibility for her needs. At home, I can work slowly with her,encourage her and stop when she feels stressed. I can also choose a different type of curriculum for her that will work better than what I've used for my elder daughter. Will this teach her she is the center of the world? Will it not prepare her for the "real" world? No, I think by working with her according to her needs I am giving her the best opportunity to become a thriving, functional adult. One that can work in many environments or one that knows "this is not the right place for me". My children do not dictate to me what curriculum to buy..."Mom, I don't like this you must get me something else!" I choose according to whether they are struggling or not.
    My younger daughter(because I am paying attention and listening to her needs/difficulties) is thriving. In the beginning of the year..she was not participating, now she looks forward to school and she is reading!

    Just my thoughts, hope it helps...


  2. I agree that we should find their learning styles. The "their boss wouldn't do that" line doesn't often hold true because of personality. Yes, if we have a child that's artistic, is very visual, loves the world of color, music, and movement, she's probably not going to be an accountant in an office that wouldn't allow her a small iPod or radio at her desk. She would not seek that type of environment out. We do this naturally. I need breaks sometimes. I know this. So when I was in the workforce, my tendencies were to find office environments that met my needs so I could be the best employee I could possibly be. I knew my strengths and weaknesses and made sure I was able to give my employer the best I had. My last job, before I got married, was in management with a multinational fiberoptic networking company. We had such businesses as the Chicago trading floor, high rise office buildings in NY, Paris, and European nations. It was a hard job, a tedious job at times, and one that was very fast paced (if fiber optics go down on the trade floor, can I tell you how many of those guys are calling, cursing, yelling, upset, they are losing money for every second it's down). I managed a huge group of people that were very technically oriented.

    But, the job had other perks that helped me stay focused. We had a wonderful break area with yummy snacks to keep us going. We had a breakroom with a comfortable couch, games, and so on. We have motivators (in the form of an expense account that I could use to buy lunch for my employees when it was a hard day, buy things to celebrate birthdays, whatever). This was an environment that was physically appealing (the way the office was set up), fast paced, full of techies that would need different ways of work, and so on.

    I would not have ever wanted a job where I had to sit, all day, in an office, in total quiet. I would have failed. This is also my learning style. I need that movement, sound, visual appeal. It all translates over the years into whatever we move into.

    No, it's very important that we find a child's learning style and that we foster it with love and patience. It will help form who they become.

  3. Thank you all for your response to the article I wrote. It is good to discuss things that you may not agree long as you can understand where others are coming from. I do understand the reader's question.

    The points in the article regarding learning languages have proven true. I agree with the 2 posts above. I think they both understand the differences in the way people learn and how they respond in their world. I am still learning about what makes others tick. There are reasons that we respond to certain circumstances the way we do. We are wired by Almighty God to be what He wants us to be with all of the potential He could pack into us!

    Okay, now to address the learning style issue. Before I discovered the learning styles of my sons, our days were filled with frustration, time outs and corporal correction. When I discovered how to relate to the boys differently, then they both began to thrive. I stopped forcing the kinesthetic learner to sit still at his desk.
    That is why he was going to flunk kindergarden! He would not sit still.
    Instead, I allowed him to wiggle. My other son was sent to another room of the house so his humming and desire to listen to music did not disturb his brother.

    The boys had no choice in the curriculum.I researched and did the best I could knowing their differences and their strengths and weaknesses. We did discover that unit studies worked very well in the late elementary and jr. high yrs.
    I could assign them projects and let them figure out how to work it out on their own.
    For example, instead of making my older son to write report after report, I allowed him the freedom to create a skit, do a tape recording or anything else that he could think up to present the same material. He did a fantastic job on these. These experiences influenced his life even today.

    That said, my older son does a terrific job with computerized slide shows and has a talent for photography...very hands on type of work. He is not be comfortable sitting still all day at a desk job, so he will not seek that type of employment. He sits still for a while then gets up and moves around. That is the way he is designed.

    My youngest son is working toward his degree in psychology. He would be more suited to work with troubled people where soft music in the background is a plus. He is also a good pianist. The music is part of him and has been so from the beginning as a wonderful gift of God. He has not had any trouble with employment with several styles of bosses.

    If a boss is not accommodating and understanding with his workers, then my question is this, "Is he doing what he is best at or is he there just for a paycheck?"

    There is a lot of dissatisfaction in the workplace today because people are not properly fitted for their employment...and it all starts with their learning language....

    Hope I haven't muddied the waters too much!

    Have a good day!


  4. Thank you, Ladies! You all are arriving at the same conclusion my husband and I did when we discussed this. Any opposing views? I'd love to hear some other ideas.

  5. Hi, Jen. Well, this is not an opposing view, really. My children went to public school, which was the best choice for them. If I had it to do over, I would send them there again.

    However, if your schools are not good in your area, or are not safe, or cannot provide special programs for children that have special needs, you would want to homeschool.

    And, some people simply WANT to homeschool, whether or not the local schools are good or bad. They are creative, or think they can do a better job...many reasons.

    Our sons' public school teachers noticed when they were good at something, such as art, and would tell me about it, and then suggest books for them, or get them more involved in a school project about that subject than the other students.

    Both of my boys liked band and chorus, and joined that. Other students were not interested in that, and so didn't join. Same with the vocational/technical programs offered by the schools -- some students entered those programs, and some did not.

    My children attended small rural schools, but still, the schools did their best to steer the children into subjects and programs that were of interest to them.

    Some larger schools have special programs for gifted students.

    When I was in high school, there was "academic" and "general". Most students were in the general classes. The accelerated students were i the academic classes (same subjects, just more challenging for the academic students). I don't know if public schools still do this.

    Most people should go into a career or job based on what they are interested in or do best in.

    However, if you are forced to take any old job, believe me, you will learn to do what the boss wants, when he wants it done and how he wants it done, so help you God, no matter how you were schooled, or you will be fired.

    Most children find their own level. We felt bad because we couldn't afford pre-school for our younger son like we did for our older. However, the younger one ended up doing just as well in school. They find their own level, and catch up or fall behind, whatever.

    You have to find out what is best for your child, and then do it, and don't let others condemn you. Sometimes you will switch from one to the other (public, private, homeschool) depending on the needs and circumstances.

    My boys are 21 and 19.

  6. Civilia, thank you for this comment. I have two children with special needs and after much prayer, actually having my older son in the school system's PPCD, and so on, we know that we are his teachers and the right ones for him. You are the first person I have ever seen mention special needs children and homeschooling in a positive light. Thank you for being open minded to that.

  7. I just think that it is wonderful that we have choices today. Parents do know what is best for their children, whether it is public, private or homeschool. I don't think that the competition between all of them hurts, either. Keeps us all on our toes wanting to excell.

    I've known people with children who had special needs who homeschooled and did a bad job with those children; on the other hand, I have seen special-needs children neglected or even abused by public school systems, because the schools didn't have the resources to teach them.

    What is best for the child, imo, depends on what the parents think the local school system is like and what they have available for all sorts of children, or on what resources parents have if they want to homeschool. I think that special-needs children can be homeschooled if the parents know what to do.

    My children fell into the "average" range.

  8. Thanks so much for the good responses. Yes, Civilla, the school system makes a big difference. In my area, I would be afraid for my children's safety in public school let alone the educational aspect. For some, the school system is great. I would encourage ALL parents to do the real "schooling" at home no matter what educational system they are in. More on that tomorrow....

  9. Reader Phyllis sent me this reply to post in the comments:
    After 38 years of teaching in a public school classroom, I would have to say that if a child's learning style is not discovered and used, he isn't likely to have a boss when he grows up. The child has to be able to accumulate the information in order to function in the work world.