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October 13, 2010

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Honoring Your Child's Unique Learning Style

Homeschooling parents around the world experience the unique and varied interests of their children. Perhaps you have one child who wants to discuss every little detail of the day? Another who takes things apart and build creations that cover the entire living room? Maybe a third who wants to play charades and sing all day?

For some families, their child's unique style of learning is the reason a homeschool learning environment was chosen. Each child's approach to life and learning may inspire the whole family. For other parents, this variety is a frustrating experience and they may wish everyone in the house learned in the same manner. Whatever your experience, and whatever your child's passion, it is likely based on your child's individual learning style, as well as your own!

At Laurel Springs School, educators use a tool called the Learning Styles Self Portrait to identify five aspects of how a student learns:

  • Disposition

  • Modality

  • Interests

  • Talents

  • Environment

All of these aspects are taken into consideration when customizing the learning process to match students' skills, needs, and goals. Parents are also encouraged to complete the Learning Styles Self Portrait so they can identify how they are alike, and different from their child. This can help you understand and support your child in addition to the teachers at Laurel Springs.

Let's take a look at the first aspect of how a child learns: disposition or "learning personality". Looking at a student's disposition shows how she naturally expresses herself in learning.

There are five learning personalities:

  1. Relating/Inspiring learners are social by nature, interested in human behavior, in discussion and group activities. These learners have great interest in learning about people. Curriculum which supports this type of learner involves group projects with time to relate and incorporate personal feelings, cooperative learning, and personal values.

  2. Thinking/Creating learners are creative by nature, artistic, interested in beauty and aesthetics. They need the opportunity to wonder, think, and dream. An appropriate choice of curriculum for these students involves art, creativity, poetry, drama, and allows for alone time.

  3. Inventing learners have an affinity for problem solving, fixing, and enhancing projects, for theory, models, exploration, and opportunities to question, design, and discover. Curricular options best suited for these students are often intellectual and research-based. Projects should be designed to ensure the student can work without strict time limitations. 

  4. Performing children are entertainers by nature. They require variety and challenge and the opportunity to move. Curricular options for performing learners should include games, manipulatives, audio visual materials, often involve competition, and be short and to the point.

  5. Producing students enjoy structure, sequence, ordered components, drill, organization and note taking. Curricular options include logical, sequential, workbook-oriented, emphasize planning, scheduling, and due dates.

Parents can teach to their child's unique learning personality at home, or they can enlist the professional support of an accredited, private school such as Laurel Springs to enrich their child's learning experience.

Nick Marks-Paschal, a Laurel Springs alumni, struggled in traditional school settings. After enrolling at Laurel Springs and completing the Learning Styles Profile, he learned he was an Inventing/Performing learning personality. He learns best in an independent setting where he can explore and design on his own. He worked with a teacher at Laurel Springs who understood his learning style and helped him bring out his Inventing side. Nick is now enjoying his career as a digital multimedia designer.

Laurel Springs School was founded on the belief that every child loves to learn and, given the right environment and tools, will evolve and grow as a whole, happy individual capable of learning in deep and magnificent ways. The Learning Style Model of Education enables this philosophy to become a reality.

"The Learning Style Model of education is a student-centered approach to learning which acknowledges the natural rhythms of childhood, a child's innate love of learning, and the unique talents inherent in each child.  We believe that every child is a living treasure with the ability to demonstrate genius. The best learning environment is one that is loving and supportive. What matters most to children is that they have family, friends, and teachers who say: 'I know who you are. I love you, I admire you, I believe in you.' We honor the uniqueness of each of our students and appreciate the myriad of learning styles they present to us." -- Marilyn Mosley Gordanier, Founder, Executive Director, Laurel Springs School


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