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6 Tools to Determine Your Kids’ Learning Styles

6 Tools to Determine Your Kids' Learning Styles

I homeschool for many reasons, not the least of which is that I can do a better job with my two kids than a classroom teacher can with 25 to 30 (or more!).

There is no room for debate on this issue. Educational experts have called for decades for smaller class sizes, but as budgets get tighter, class sizes get bigger. There's no doubt that a personalized education far exceeds a factory model.

Except.

What if I'm treating my homeschooled kids as if they were seats in an assembly-line classroom?

When Grace showed signs of reading readiness, I purchased Handwriting Without Tears and Hooked on Phonics, and I printed hundreds of pages' worth of sight words and Montessori materials from my favorite early childhood websites.

No kidding.

She hated Hooked on Phonics. She threw the Handwriting Without Tears letter cards on the floor and made a snowman with the play dough. I shuffled the dog-eared pile of printed pages from one place to another until I finally threw them away.

My daughter was ready – and eager – to learn to read, but she didn't fit the approach I tried to force her into.

I should have known better. I have a master's degree in teaching and curriculum. I spent all of my undergraduate and graduate education learning about learning styles, designing differentiated instruction, and preparing authentic assessments.

But I also taught astronomy and geology in a public high school for 10 years, and I learned to fit the kids into an arbitrary curriculum.

After some soul-searching, I realized that the curricula I chose was never going to work for Grace. I needed to get to know her learning style and her personality as her teacher instead of as teacher. Once I did that (and subsequently put into practice many of the methods in Educating the WholeHearted Child, our school time became dramatically easier.

I also changed up our school routine, adding Bible lessons at the beginning, but that's for another post.

Determining Kids' Learning Styles

6 Tools to Determine Your Kids' Learning Styles

I think everyone secretly loves diagnostic quizzes, right? I know I do.

In fact, I always took the quizzes in magazines on a separate piece of paper so that I could come back and take them again later.

Anyway.

Here are a few resources that will help you get to know your learner better. Among the articles and tools are quizzes (of course!) to help you figure out her learning style as well as explanations to help you see how to best teach her.

Note: These are mostly not the same links that this post started with. As old ones have become broken, I have added new ones and deleted broken ones. That's why there are 10 now instead of the 6 I advertise.

  1. Learning Styles in Young Children – This article will help you to diagnose your preschooler's learning style.
  2. What's Your Learning Style in 20 Questions – This magazine-style quiz asks you to click buttons and spits out an answer at the end to tell you what kind of learner you are. Easy enough to answer on behalf of your kids.
  3. The Way They Learn – This book helps parents to identify how their children learn and how they themselves learn, since this has a huge impact on how they teach. If you know these two patterns, reaching your kids is worlds easier. Full of practical tips and resources.
  4. Multiple Intelligences Test – This is like a magazine quiz. You answer 40 questions, and it tells you where your strengths are. This would be great for older kids to do for themselves.
  5. Myers-Briggs Personality Test – This is the old standard psychological personality test that you might remember from your own adolescence. You remember, INFP and ESTJ and so on? You can find detailed explanations of each of the 16 types here.
  6. Homeschool personality – This is an explanation of each of the 16 personality types as they relate to homeschool moms. I like this one a lot.
  7. The VARK Questionnaire for Younger People – VARK is becoming more and more well known. VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic, which are the four big learning styles. There's also a questionnaire on the site for adults, and there's a third one for teachers. There's tons of this site to explore. The only downside is that they want you to buy the report for anything more than the most basic score on the questionnaire.
  8. Determining Myers-Briggs Score Without a Test – This is a really good article that will help you to determine a Myers-Briggs score for your young child who is too little for taking a test herself.
  9. The People Code – This book by Dr. Taylor Hartman has been used for over 30 years to help people understand one another. It teaches readers to categorize people into one of 4 color types and then shows how each color type interacts with the world. It's very helpful in understanding how your children function and learn.
  10. The 5 Love Languages of Children – This book by Gary Chapman is foundational in our society. Love languages are an accepted thing, a way of relating to affection. If you know anything about people and learning, you know that children can't learn unless they feel accepted, appreciated, and loved. Thus, if you want them to learn, you need to know what makes them feel good.

How does learning style affect the way you homeschool?

© 2013 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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37 thoughts on “6 Tools to Determine Your Kids’ Learning Styles

  1. Another great resource in knowing your child’s personality- and things that make them tick- is The You Zoo, by Jami Kirkbride. A super user friendly book. You read through it with your child, little mini stories, and the child picks the monkey they are most like in each story. It was spot on with my two daughters and myself. They loved reading through it and wanted to do more. Awesome new resource!!!

  2. This was great read! Thank you for the resources. I ran into the similar problems with my middle child…..I assumed he was ready because (after all) his older brother took to reading like a fish to water and his sister (18 months younger than him was showing signs of reading readiness). We also had issues where handwriting was concerned.

    After some soul searching and lots of advice friends and family I started doing things his way instead of mine and it started clicking for him. Noah is a very kinesthetic learner (I had NO CLUE until I friend pointed it out to me) so he struggles with sedentary activities. He also was just not ready to read or write.

    I feel like we are both on the same page this year and I look forward to starting our school year. I also know that he’ll throw some curve balls my way as is his nature but I wouldn’t have him any other way. 🙂

  3. As a mom, I have no issue with another parent who feels that homeschooling is the best route for his/her child. I am quite sure many have blossomed through this approach.
    As a public school teacher of 17 years, however, I do take issue with the way you assume NO teacher, or student for that matter, can do as good a job with 25-30 in a class. I understand the belief is that there must be NO WAY one teacher could meet the needs of ALL of those students or that all of them are learning, and certainly not excelling. And perhaps it doesn’t always happen; but perhaps you do not know any of the amazing, gifted teachers I work with. And obviously, your children have never been blessed with anyone like the MANY in my district who pour their hearts and souls into shaping, guiding, encouraging, challenging, and preparing those God places in our paths year after year. I’m sorry you have not known these type of teachers, because we are out there. And we gladly and enthusiastically take on this challenge daily, so that every precious life that steps into our schools may know we are here for them, not just for academics, but to help them chart their own path through this crazy life. But I am sure I am delusional in thinking this is possible, since it can’t possibly be done…according to you. There can’t be any benefits to the group dynamic, the sense of family, the pride of a team, the challenges, the risks, the opportunities, the exposure to different teachers and teaching styles (oh, they can learn from something that and someone who is not perfectly molded to them?)…and yet, I see evidence of it every day, in so many places, with so many teachers.
    So, may God bless you in your homeschooling endeavors, just as He most certainly can with us public school teachers. Have a great school year!

    • I’m sorry that you’re feeling defensive; I did not intend to offend. Did you read the entire article? I have a master’s degree in teaching and curriculum, and I taught astronomy in a large public high school for ten years. I understand the hard work that you and your colleagues put in every day. I know many talented teachers who have devoted their entire lives to the education of children. Believe me, I understand completely the challenges you face, and I applaud you. I am sure you are doing the very best job you can do, and I believe completely that your students will learn and experience great success during the coming school year.

      I think MOST teachers do a good job of reaching the majority of their students. I never said otherwise.

      But I am sure I am delusional in thinking this is possible, since it can’t possibly be done…according to you.

      I never said that teachers don’t do a good job or that it’s an impossible task.

      What I did say is that I can do a better job with my two (exceptionally gifted) kids than any classroom teacher could do for mine among a group of 25-30, and I stand by that statement. I can offer a richer, more varied curriculum, tailored to their interests and abilities, taught in the ways they learn best, with a Christian worldview. The confines of an educational system for the masses prevent most of those things, even for students with IEPs or GIEPs. There are standards and district-mandated curricula to cover, not to mention the plethora of standardized tests and other requirements.

      There are dozens of studies (including some by the US Dept of Education) that show reduced class size, especially in the early grades to be a major factor in advancing student achievement. Does it mean that students can’t achieve in large classes? Of course not. They can, and many do. Would mine? Who knows.

      Would my 6-year-old be able to work at her own pace, a full grade level (or two) ahead of her age peers if she were in a public school? Not in the district where we live. She wouldn’t be able to study Mandarin Chinese or French or spend 12 hours a week studying art, music, and dance. (All things she does, at her request.) She wouldn’t be able to start her school day with Bible lessons (which we do at her choice) or play with science experiments all afternoon.

      I want to stress again that I think teachers do a wonderful job for most kids, and there are many benefits to a public school education. I just don’t believe public school (or any school, for that matter) is right for the individual needs and challenges of my children.

      Thank you for wishing us the best in our school year. I send the same wishes to you. I hope you and your students have a wonderful school year, and I hope that you found the resources I shared here helpful.

    • To the offended teacher, I know that there are a lot of good teachers out there in the world, but I also know that there are a lot of not so good teachers out there. My family and I happen to live in an area that is not lucky in having a lot of good teachers. We get the bottom of the barrel here and occasionally there is a wonderful teacher that moves in and decides to stay despite the horrible pay rate. But most often the good leave and the bad stay.
      We had one Jr High teacher that didn’t even prepare her lessons for her classes she would just use her husbands high school lessons. If the kids did not understand a concept and asked for help they were out of luck because she did not understand the concept either and her husband was not there to help. Thankfully she moved away, but I feel sorry for the new school that ended up with her.
      My children have learned more homeschooling than they learned, or ever will learn, at our school. They also do not have to put up with the bullying that happens at our school that the faculty refuses to acknowledge because then they can’t keep them claim of “bullying doesn’t happen here”.
      I wish all schools were as lucky as the one you work at. If there was any way that could happen my kids would go back to public school!

  4. Tara,

    You are so gracious! I am very thankful to have come across this post and am now following you
    on Pinterest. I have a 4 year old daughter turning 5 end of October and a son just turned 3 in June.

    I appreciate the information and look forward to finding out their learning styles to help with our homeschooling.

    Thank you!

    Tasha

  5. This post was so helpful! We are jumping back onto the homeschool wagon, after a five year hiatus! Our older ones are in high school or finishing up middle school. However, we have two younger ones and more and more we are feeling lead to bring them home. Your information will go far in helping us determine a curriculum and learning style for each of them. Thanks!

  6. Wonderful article. I homeschooled my children from K-12. I guess the best way to describe how we did things was ‘Christ-led’. 🙂 When the last child went to college, I needed to go to work and have been in a small Christian school for 6 years. I will forever be grateful for the time I had with my children. We are all different for the experience. Keep up the good work. Blessings to you.

  7. Great post! I do believe there are what we call learning styles. We can define learning style as a way for a person to acquire and process information, such as children learning what an apple looks like or saying the word “apple” to label it, a routine such as tying shoelaces or a motor skill such as jumping.

  8. I really enjoyed this article. I think the links you supplied are excellent, and I am definitely going to try upscaling your approach to differentiate learning in my 25-30 kid classrooms!

  9. I am very grateful you took the time to write this. I thank you for putting all these resources in one place. I started home schooling about 2 years ago, and some days I just struggle with my son. While I always knew the reason he struggled in public school was because they taught a test, not a child.. I didn’t know what his learning style was. My daughter was so easy to teach.. She just loved spending days together and absorbed any new info I would give her.. My son is very different.

    Your reply to the teacher who clearly misunderstood and felt defensive over your very honest statements about home school vs public school, was wonderful. I really respect how calm, kind and matter of factly answered her.

    I will be looking through your page, I have already bookmarked it, and I am very excited to go through our homeschool journey now that I have found someone so level-headed to help guide us.

    Thanks for your time.

  10. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for to help me figure out how to get my 4 year old interested in reading. She knows some sight words, she can sound out words, but doesn’t like to. Hopefully these sites can help me figure out what type of learner she is so we can make reading fun.

    The second link is broken, do you know the website where I can find those tests?

    • You may not want to hear this, but if your 4-year-old doesn’t want to read, I don’t think you should force the issue. Give her some time, and she’ll start reading when she’s ready. I went through the same thing with my very advanced 4-year-old. I didn’t push, and she started reading when she wanted to. She is now 7 and reading far above her peers.

  11. The second resource does not include a link and I’m very interested in this one. Much appreciated.

    Teaching and Learning Style Quizzes – This one has three different quizzes, for child and adult learning styles and for your teaching style.

  12. Hi Tara, So this is our first yr homeschooling. I have a problem with my 6 yr old daughter who is in first grade. She is having difficulties in Reading. Im not sure how to help her. I have no degree or anything like that. I am doing bocabulary words with her but I feel like she is very lost. Any advice will be greatly appreciated!!!!

    • Hello Tara,

      My name is Christal and I’m also in the Faith. I applaud you for choosing to do what’s BEST for your 2 children and home school them. Sister Tara, do you know of any great sites that offer curriculum, activities, etc. for children that makes sense to a child who’s learning approach is through play.

      thanks in advance and blessings to you.

      I can relate, Magie. My oldest child is a smart boy, I’m just trying to get him more interested in learning. He loves to play, and watch movies so I use that to my advantage and find education movies and shows for him to watch.

  13. I am very concerned about my children learning, I hav a 7 and a 6 year old and we are In a emergency need of help, they are not learning as fast as I thought, can you give tips,.. my 7 year old is so behind she was retained 1st grade , I need. Help and ideas on how she can learn in a styles that she can understand…

  14. Thank you 🙂 This article helps me a lot. I`ll change my methods because my kid has some problems with remembering and I think that will help me.

  15. hi,
    Thank you so much for this article. My 5 year old is definitely an auditory learner. I still haven’t figured out what my 3 year old’s learning style is. Do you have a link for #2 Teaching Style? Both links are broken.
    Sandy

  16. Pingback: Home Educators Association of Virginia » Mom’s Corner – October 14, 2015
  17. Pingback: Choosing a Curriculum – Our Year of Homeschool

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