When learning styles collide

I am the wife of a man getting his doctorate in education. I am also the mother of three young, very different boys. These two facts mean that I constantly think about learning styles.

How do I learn? How do I teach my children? Why does something that worked wonderfully with one of my kids crash and burn with another?

I’m what you might call a hyper-verbal learner. My husband once said that I learn in the space in front of my mouth. If I’m talking, I’m learning. In college, I longed for the professor to stop talking so we students could start. As soon as I started verbalizing the ideas that had been presented and my reaction to them, I was in my “learning zone.”

My husband, on the other hand, hated group discussions. He referred to them as “pooled ignorance,” preferring to listen to someone knowledgable before forming an opinion. I guess opposites really do attract.

My first grade son takes after his dad. He watches carefully. He loves to use his hands and build things. What he doesn’t love is answering a hundred questions about his day, his feelings or who he played with at recess.

I once read that highly verbal parents struggle to relate to kids like my oldest son. I think that’s because we try to relate to them in the way we want people to relate to us: with words. This leads to mutual frustration.

One of the biggest breakthroughs I had in my relationship with my son was when I started to do preschool with him at home. He loved learning, and I learned how to incorporate hands-on activities like Building TV towers one cheerio at a time or Preschool car painting. It was so fulfilling to feel like I was finally getting through to him.

Now that he attends school things have gotten rockier. So this post has helped me to process all of this (almost as good as verbalizing it!) and remember that my son is different than me! Yes, I’m sorry to say that sometimes it takes a blog post for me to realize something that simple. 😉  But here goes. I need to relate to him in ways that he loves — like building with Legos or play wrestling or letting him help me measure ingredients for dinner. I know that if I can reach his heart, his words will inevitably follow.

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45


(This post was written in response to this daily prompt: Learning Style)

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