Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Parenting Pointers: Knowing Your Child's Learning Style

I recently gave my daughter Bridgeway Academy's Learning Style Assessment, and it was neat to get tips and tricks for her. I'm a teacher, so I know a lot already about different learning styles, but most parents aren't trained for that sort of thing, so it's a very useful tool to help make your child's education more effective. I had a chance to interview Kimberly Kulp, director of products and curriculum at Bridgeway Academy, about the difference it makes to know your child's learning style. 

1.       If parents are homeschooling, it can be easy for them to implement suggestions in the learning style assessment. But what about parents whose kids are in a traditional setting?
The Total Assessment Tool, our new and improved assessment and report dashboard, is made up of three different tests: Learning Style, Personality Style, and Learning Environment. All of these assessments are built around the same principle: the more we know about our children and ourselves the better we can relate to and help one another.

The questions and reports provided from the Total Assessment give parents insight into much more than their child’s learning style. The Personality Assessment can help parents better understand themselves and their children in areas including communication, problem solving, conflict resolution, motivation, and interests. The Personality Style report will actually compare parents to their child, giving them more insight into how they can better communicate with, interpret, and relate to their children. These principles apply inside and outside of the home, and can truly enrich relationships.
The Learning Style Assessment (LSA) gives parents more information about how their children learn best. This can be applied to much more than classroom education. Parents can use the results from the LSA to arm themselves with insight into how they can best relate information to their child. For example, character building is key for young children, and every parent wants to raise a child that makes good decisions. Knowing that your child is a visual learner will tell you not to get into long drawn out discussions about decision making. Rather, you will know to show them visually through a comic, video, or even a story that you draw and act out together. And don’t forget about homework time. Knowing that my son is a tactile learner has greatly helped me during homework hour. Instead of sitting him in a chair, I have him practice spelling and math facts while playing play-dough, jumping rope, or doing jumping jacks.

Our goal and passion at Bridgeway Academy is to provide resources and services that unlock the potential of each child in and out of the classroom. Our Total Assessment is just one way we help families find and live out their best lives.

2.       Why is it important to match a child's education with his or her learning style?
The brain is an intricate organ and while there is so much to learn, many have argued that most people often only use a fraction of their brains. While people can and should learn in multiple ways, each unique brain and personality has a preferred way to learn. It is like any skill or hobby. We may have many of them but we are often best at the thing that we enjoy most. When we determine how we learn best, we use more of our brain; therefore, our brain is at its best. Speaking a child’s learning language is the best way to turn short term memories into long term memories, and access more of their brain. Long term memories are the building blocks for understanding and future concepts.

We also want our kids to love to learn. It has been shown that when children are engaged using their learning style they enjoy learning more. Their brains release the “happy” chemicals needed to create excitement and joy. And excitement and joy are the keys to building lifelong learners. When we learn how we need to, we thrive!

3.       If parents meet with resistance at school, how can they use the assessment to help at home?
 The Total Assessment Tool is meant for both at home and at school. Knowledge is power, and knowing your child better puts you in a position to work with his or her teachers and administrators to make changes for your child in school. However, it is increasingly more difficult for teachers to accommodate learning styles with the many demands of large class sizes, Common Core Standards, and standardized tests. Although only 20 percent of students are auditory learners, 70 percent of teaching is done in the auditory style. This is a problem and our children are suffering as a result.
Knowing your child’s learning and personality styles can help you with homework strategies.  It is important to incorporate your child’s style into every aspect of their education routine. Our third assessment, the Learning Environment, identifies key ways your child likes to study and learn. This report can benefit the homework routine, in addition to giving parents ideas on how to approach schools regarding their child’s desk placement, testing locations, etc. Also, the reports in our Total Assessment Tool include tools that you can use with each learning style that will help you with homework completion at every grade level. 

One way that I have implemented this in my own life is to ensure that my children are always allowed to complete homework and projects in a way that suits them. You may not be able to control the assignment, but you can control the environment in which they complete it and the tools that they use. 
What’s key to remember is that you CAN take back control! There are so many options in education today, including homeschooling, which can help you ensure that your child is learning exactly how they need to in order to thrive. Ultimately if we as parents do not take control, who will?


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