How Styles of Learning Will Help Your Reluctant Writer Thrive
This is a guest post written by Sharon Watson – https://writingwithsharonwatson.com/
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My daughter was slogging through a textbook and not understanding the concepts. Her reading comprehension was low. Her frustration level was high. How could I help her?
Years earlier I had studied my children and their learning styles, and it turned out to be a tremendous boon to our homeschool. One child loved nature and filling in workbooks. Another hated writing but loved order and knew where everything in the house was. Yet another could learn anything as long as someone else was in the room. There was a way to partner with my daughter in her learning; I just had to find it.
Getting our children to write paragraphs and essays is sometimes painful. Could the key be in understanding and respecting the ways our children learn best? Would we encounter less resistance if we focused more on their true aptitudes and abilities?
As you read through the following suggestions for each learning style, think about which ones will help your writers thrive. Incidentally, our children are combinations of these styles of learning, with some styles stronger than others.
Logical-mathematical learners often excel in reports, how-to or process essays, research, and assignments that are not open ended. These learners appreciate being taught the patterns and formats of writing, and they need time to think about and plan their writing assignments.
Musical learners like to write while listening to music. They are aware of noises and may be bothered or lose their focus by them. Writing lyrics and poems may delight them. Other topics: favorite lyricists, composers, musicians, musicals, or instruments.
Interpersonal learners like to work with other people. Writing in a group (either as a group effort or on their own assignment among friends) helps them. They like to work together on the planning phases of an essay. Try a brainstorming session with them and their friends on the topic of why children shouldn’t watch horror movies. You may be surprised how many ideas they come up with.
Intrapersonal learners are creative and appreciate open-ended writing assignments that give them many options. They may be good at writing fiction and at journaling, as they have a strong sense of who they are and what makes them tick.
Linguistic learners love playing around with their language. They like the sounds of words and can often play games with them (rhymes, riddles, Scrabble, and so forth). They enjoy reading and writing, are good spellers, and think in words (some have a black/white board in their heads). These writers like learning about writers’ devices such as analogies, similes, metaphors, personification, allusions, patterns of three, and so forth.
Spatial learners appreciate order and color. Will teaching the parts of speech be easier if each part has its own color? When caught daydreaming, ask them to write down what they see. They and the visual learners can learn how to write well by viewing instructional YouTube videos.
Naturalistic learners love aspects of nature such as weather, animals, parks, or conservation. Turn them loose to write about their love or let them write outdoors. Categorizing is their special skill, so let them write about categories of bees, rocks, or other topics of interest.
Kinesthetic learners would like to wiggle or sit in beanbags when writing and often like keyboarding their work instead of using pen or pencil. Ask them to teach others their special sport or skill in a how-to essay. Use 3-D visual aids when possible, like a figurine from a popular cartoon or movie to teach personification or prepositions: Olaf was in the forest, below the palace, around the town, and so forth. Cut up a professionally written paragraph (sentence by sentence), or an essay (paragraph by paragraph). Then ask your students to put them back together in the right order.
Auditory learners appreciate reading their textbooks aloud and or listening to the recorded versions. Ask them questions like “What do you want people to know about this topic?” They may like writing speeches.
Visual learners are helped when they see or write facts on the board. Studying examples of effective writing helps these students understand the structure of the paragraph and essay. Graphics such as the Greek temple or the cluster method of organization help immensely.
What did I do for my daughter? We sat together on the couch and took turns reading paragraphs to each other. Something as simple as this worked perfectly, and it respected her need to be with other people as she learned.
Sharon Watson is the author of Jump In, Apologia’s easy-to-use middle school writing curriculum featured in Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. She was forced to retire from homeschooling after 18 years when she ran out of her own children, but her enthusiasm for teaching permeates her writing and literature courses. Her popular course The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition is based on her sought-after writing classes and is the sequel to Jump In.