Every child learns differently, as we’ve all been told. Nowhere has that been more evident than in my life, with my four children. My daughter is my oldest, and for the most part can work very independently. She needs things shown to her and read to her for her to learn best, and needs lots of scratch paper for working out problems and making rough drafts. She needs to hear it, think it, and write it before it cements itself in her mind, and can do all of this herself without me needing to remind her to do it.
My son, on the other hand, learns entirely differently. He needs to see it and then think about it. I can’t really fit the way he learns into a pre-conceived learning style, such as they are. I’ve seen my son, when faced with new math concepts, put his head down on to the kitchen table. At first, I thought he was avoiding work by pretending to take a nap, but suddenly his head popped up and he had the answer. I asked him how he had done the math without writing anything, and he told me he could “see the math problem” in his head, and that he worked it all out in his head.
Now, for the sake of him learning to do it and having the ability to do it, I do make him work out his problems on paper, but amazingly he can take multi-digit problems and “see” them in his head to work them out. His sister at times is frustrated, because she has to painstakingly write everything down and slowly work the problems out, but as I’ve told her, they’re both different and will learn and grow in very different ways.
This, I believe, is where homeschooling really shines. At a public school, each one of my children would be taught the exact same way. Despite the fact that they are two individuals with individual strengths and weaknesses, they would be expected to learn the same, output the same, keep to the same time table, and perform the same as their twenty or so classmates. I’ve never found this to be an ideal way of teaching children.
Instead, through homeschooling my kids, I can give each of them the teaching style they need to fit best to the way they learn. I can give my daughter the extra time she needs to work out her math problems, and I can let my son put his head down on the desk to “see” his math problems. I trust that by allowing them to learn in their own fashion, they’ll grow to be the best learners they can be and realize their full potential. Also, by allowing them each to work as they work best, we have school with a limited amount of frustration.