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Should homeschooling moms panic over discovering that their children have different learning styles?

Sunday, 27. September 2009 by Renee Ellison

Thousands of homeschooling mothers who have attended workshops on “discovering your child’s learning style” or who have read some popular new educational books about this, have left that conference or shut that book wide-eyed and panicked about the implications of this concept and all the work and time and expense it will entail. They begin an absorbing search for the perfect tailor-made curriculum for each subject, DIFFERENT for each child. Years later, however, we find many of these same moms in tears, and the children no better educated than before. After arduous hunting, moms wearily soon find out that there is a dearth of availability of such “differing learning style” materials…once they’ve run through the phonics options for teaching kindergarteners. Many of the expensive materials they DID find and buy are now sitting unopened in the corner of the living room. Sadly, they discover that these materials are just too overwhelming, demanding too much of mom to even implement. The size and scope of the teacher preparation required for such an optimal approach has simply burned mom out on teaching at all.

Several decades ago, when I was still a public school teacher, research began to emerge over this topic of discovering that children have different learning styles. This information made many teachers happy because all of a sudden it explained why Johnny couldn’t read while Susie COULD, given the same lesson. In large classrooms where children get very little of a total percentage of a teacher’s attention, this was helpful information. In many schools it resulted in instituting pull-out programs to teach struggling children, using more targeted materials and approaches for those problem cases. It is interesting to note that in every case, however, an overlooked success factor was the greatly reduced class sizes. Most all of these special programs had a teacher/pupil ratio of five to one or less.

For clarification purposes, “different learning styles” just means that some children are largely auditory learners (they can pick up most information accurately by just hearing it), some are visual (they must SEE the materials), and some are predominantly tactile (they learn best by touching). All children learn most optimally when all three styles are employed in each lesson, because whatever is experienced with the most sensory input will stick with the learner more powerfully than what is learned with just one sense. This is only an ideal, however; it is nearly impossible to achieve over the long haul.

The power of one-to-one tutoring, however, that was simply impractical and way too expensive to implement in public schools, IS now available in virtually every homeschooling home. It is my experience that one-on-one attention CAN yield nearly the same results, without the frenzy of finding and buying perfect different learning style materials for every subject for every child.

I HAVE recommended (and still DO recommend)—even in the face of this research—that a sequential step-by-step progressive line-upon-line individualized curriculum will yield the same results at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the frenzy to homeschooling parents. The reason? The power of tutoring. Side by side, the parent and child can learn about pyramids without also having to build them under the kitchen table and sing about them, all of which consumes a disproportionate amount of time, as in oceans of downright wasted time, for the single fact learned.

Parents think they are educating as creatively and powerfully as possible when they are thoroughly covering one topic, by doing a unit-study of the Renaissance, for example, by providing hands-on materials, expensive materials, supposedly perfect materials. They add to this, their own personal adult sweat equity to deliver the subject on a silver platter for their child at that one moment. But what they fail to see is the other 16,000 concepts over 12 years, six subjects a day, with four concepts per subject (pace), that fall through the cracks while they overemphasize and EXPERIENCE one topic.

Obsessing about perfectionism in one topic, in many cases because the parent himself happens to want to learn that topic along WITH the child, because she missed learning it at the far more appropriate time in her own childhood, leaves their present child under-trained, slanted in his or her skills and perceptions, and wastes a phenomenal amount of time. Sometimes this becomes even an escape for the information-hungry-mom from other more drudging domestic duties to keep the family fully functioning and the hubby happy. This untimely, inappropriate priority causes untold daily stress on the entire family…to say nothing of burning out the mama.

What beginning homeschooling parents, by the droves, don’t realize is that your child can learn far faster than you can teach. You simply can’t prepare all this information in bite-sized and comprehensive enough pieces to be as effective as a thorough individualized curriculum can.

Having said all this, not all curriculums are equal. Some sequential programs are nothing but dry bones. Fortunately, there is ONE that isn’t. It is the exact opposite of all the boring dead curriculums we were pushed and pulled through in our own educations. The difference? This one has God on every page! After all, education is ultimately HIS-story…history. A growing, caring relationship with God waltzes the learner through the beautifully illustrated, up-to-date material time and time again. I’ve seen children literally click their heels and cheer with excitement when they were finishing one level of ACE and receiving the next level. This individualized, engaging curriculum is five-star, state-of-the-art- excellent…the top of the pile!

In addition to yielding standardized test scores to be proud of, ACE gives a general education that is comprehensive enough, and spiritual training that is thorough enough, to eventually release your child as a refined adult into the big wide world. And, as if that weren’t enough, the children carry the load of their OWN education, going at their own pace and correcting their own work IMMEDIATELY, rather than continually waiting on the often preoccupied and unavailable and overtaxed parents to do it for them.

We’ve found that ACE is simply the most effective way to conquer education for children the world over. ‘Tis now taught to over 1 million children in over 135 countries. We say, “Let ACE be your child’s tutor and you be their cheerleader!” It is my strong seasoned advice that you not waste your time reinventing the educational wheel, achieving much less desirable outcomes. Such experiments have been tried before with miserable results in countless families now over the past two decades.

Children can easily master all academics by tried and true sequential baby steps. It has been my experience in over 35 years in the field of education that daily sequential discipline will yield results that are superior to academics taught only by sporadic passion and novelty, regardless of how superior that moment or two managed to be. If you still want (and have the energy) to, go ahead and teach your passion subjects in ADDITION or on top of a SURE curriculum. ACE is your horse to ride to go the distance. It’ll still have your children habitually working and progressing on the days when you are totally out of it. And if you’re human, that’s a lot of days. Get ACE and stick with it; I think you’ll be very happy with the results.