I got an interesting question last week from a reader, and it gave me something to think about while I nursed my flu and sipped chicken soup.
I read with interest your article in Home School Enrichment, “Seven Surprising Lessons I learned from Teaching My Children to Read.” My question regards #3, about different learning styles. I have noticed during over 25 years as an AWANA leader of 5-7yo boys that they memorize Bible verses differently. Some memorize faster by having me read the verse over and over to them. Some, who can read, memorize more readily by looking at the written words, etc. I suppose this confirms what you said in your article. My question is, how does one learn, preferably quickly, what a child’s learning style is? Maybe one of your books explains it? Thank you!
— Tom G.
Thank you so much for writing! When one writes a magazine article, one wonders if anyone reads it because one doesn’t get any google stats from other people’s mail. And if one is writing for one’s favorite homeschool magazine, then one knows that there are dozens of exciting, interesting articles in each issue, and one can hardly expect one’s boring “how to read” article to compete with all that awesomeness. So you made my day. Thank you for reading!
(Seriously, did you see Karen Doll’s article on Artistry? So many, many great ideas for our students of every learning style to develop art appreciation! I was thrilled!)
So I had to go back and look at page 74 in the Mar/Apr issue of Home School Enrichment to remember what I said point number 3 was. “Learning styles become apparent during reading education.” Ah, now I remember. I told the story about how I learned that my middle son was a kinesthetic/auditory learner when he was young because the only way he could remember letters and sounds from one day to the next was if I held him on my lap and guided his fingers through tracing the letters while I crooned the name and sound in his ear. He had to hear it, feel it, and experience love all at once to retain the information.
So you ask the $100,000,000 question: How can parents and teachers diagnose learning style quickly? I wish I had an easy answer. If there was a quick, three-point test for learning styles, then every teacher would be a genius and every student would get all A’s.
I have written one quick kindle book that might be some help. Homeschool Made Easy talks quite a bit about how to notice your child’s learning style preferences and how to maximize those across different subjects. I go into the most detail in the “early learning” years, which is right where your AWANA Sparkies are at. You can find this on kindle here.
The best book on learning styles is The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias. I highly recommend this book to everyone I can. You can get it on kindle or paperback from Amazon, or you can get the book FREE with a donation to Focus on the Family here.
Ok, that’s the book larnin’ about larnin’ styles. Here’s my actual advice for helping your Sparkies learn their verses (from a former AWANA quiz champion, wife of AWANA commander, and mother of 4 AWANA clubbers):
Wise teachers utilize all learning styles.We each have natural teaching styles (which I discuss in Homeschool Made Easy), and that’s what we fall back on most often. For instance, I’m a lecturer and a writer. It’s how I communicate most naturally. So I have to remind myself to reach out to my kinesthetic learners, to put for that extra creativity to keep them engaged.
Visual and auditory learners naturally excel at AWANA.
They just need to read the verses and memorize them, or else read them aloud and listen to those around them. Boom, they’ve got it, and their parents and teachers are so proud.
The poor kinesthetic learners have to work harder, and they truly earn every signature in their books. AWANA is giving them more projects, more drawing, and more pencil work to help them stay engaged, so point out the “fun sections” coming up. But we need to also help them out in lesson time and section time so these children stay motivated.
Prepare learning activities for kinesthetic learners.
And be prepared for your visual and auditory learners to enjoy them, too. These Sparkies are naturally energetic! Here are some ideas, and you likely have more:
- Let them stand up in front of their chair if they remember the next word in the verse.
- Let them run across the room to say the next phrase of the verse.
- Make flash cards with the words of a verse, and let them place them on the floor in order.
- Have them jump up and down in place while saying each word of the verse.
- Let them bounce a small ball to you for each word of the verse they remember.
- Make up silly motions for each word or phrase in the verse.
Go back and take a look at Karen Doll’s art article again and see if some of those don’t inspire you with some AWANA craft ideas. Repeating the verse together while coloring, sculpting, and creating will also help cement God’s truths in their minds.
My middle son is a kinesthetic Trek clubber. He walks around the block saying his verses aloud, he reads them to me while I am cooking, and he stomps around the house muttering when he has a hard time remembering a verse. Ha!
Remember, verses aren’t memorized in one day.
Your Sparkies need help from their parents learning how to study verses, learning how to read the verses, and learning how to understand the verses. It will take a lot of repetition and patience, no matter what their learning style. One of the best ministries you can have to these families is to encourage and empower your clubbers’ parents to enjoy studying God’s Word together.
I’m sure many of my readers have ideas to help your clubbers learn their verses.
How do you maximize your child’s learning style to memorize Scripture?
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