By Susan M. Rundle
Try this: (1) turn the TV to a news station, (2) put your hands on your head, and (3) stand on one foot and listen for 60 seconds. Was this comfortable? How much did you remember? What were you thinking while you were standing on one foot with your hands on your head? If it was uncomfortable, then you have just experienced what it is like for children when their individual learning styles are not met.
Every human has a learning style regardless of IQ, achievement level, or socioeconomic status. Although researchers define the concept differently, learning style is essentially the conditions under which a person begins to concentrate on, absorb, process, and retain new information and skills. Psychobiologists (Dunn and Dunn, 1969-2009) have identified which elements you’re born with and which develop as an outgrowth of individual life experiences. In fact, it has been determined that three-fifths of learning style is biologically imposed (Restak, 1979, and Thies, 1979, 1999-2000).
One thing research has shown is that when an at-risk student’s learning style is considered and accommodated, the student’s achievement increases, and attitudes toward learning improve. And sometimes simply redesigning the classroom or home study space can accommodate that learning style.
One mother we interviewed in Australia assumed that her daughter's learning style would be similar to her own. She quickly found out that trying to force her learning style on her child was simply not working, and was, in fact, making home life difficult. “My daughter’s learning-style profile identified the cause behind the friction — we simply had different ways of learning," she says. "While I need absolute silence, soft background music is not a distraction to her. While I need a small, cozy place, she prefers an open area. While I have a preference for soft lighting, she prefers natural light. These are all important things to consider now that we are setting up a new study area in our home.”
If this story sounds like life at your house, you are not alone. Incidentally, husbands and wives tend to have many elements of learning style that are different from each other. Children's styles do not necessarily reflect their parents', and siblings' styles appear to be more different from each other than similar.
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