I am sure that many of you have come across the theory of learning styles; the preferred method by which individuals learn. The model most of us are familiar with is termed the Fleming’s V.A.K. model and categorizes learning styles into 3 types; visual learners, auditory learners and kinesthetic learners. In a nutshell, visual learners have a preference for seeing, auditory learners learn best through listening and kinesthetic learners prefer to learn through experience – moving, touching and doing.
As we go about educating our children, either in a traditional classroom situation or in the home, it is helpful to identify your child’s preferred learning style and to keep it in mind as you help them learn.
One of the best ways to help any child learn, even if you cannot identify their preferred learning style is to cover all three! Particularly in the early years, it is helpful to provide children with as many concrete or “hand on” learning experiences as possible and move to more abstract concepts later. This is particularly important for mathematics when children are learning the basic skills of counting for example. While there is a place for us to tell and show them how to count, the skill of counting will improve most effectively when we have them actually DO the counting!
This is one of the reasons why I choose to use workjobs in our homeschooling. Workjobs (sometimes known as shoebox tasks or learning centre activities) are designed to teach a specific skill or outcome in any subject area. They are self contained in that every item necessary for completing the task is included and allow students to manipulate attractive concrete materials and common objects in order to experience and practice a concept in a completely hands-on way. A true workjob is also self-checking, although I do often use workjobs that require an adult or older learner to check that they have been completed correctly.
When I am introducing a new workjob, I demonstrate how it is to be done (visual learning) while explaining the skills and steps involved (auditory learning), before allowing the learner to practice the skill through hand-on manipulation (kinesthetic learning.) Independent learning is fostered as children complete each workjob without assistance (apart from the initial introduction) as many times as is necessary for them to grasp the skill or concept involved.
I do change workjobs for skills such as counting before the skill is mastered to keep interest levels high; however the format of each activity type is kept basically the same. This means that the initial demonstration time is kept to a minimum as children can quickly work out what is required to complete the new task with a familiar format.
Workjobs blend very well with the Montessori inspired tray activities that I use and as such will be categorized under the same headings. (See article here for a brief explanation of Montessori inspired activities.) Each workjob will be posted as an individual activity with a photograph, description, subject area and skill, concept or outcome covered and the equipment/materials needed to set up the experience.
Workjobs and Montessori activities are categorised together under the four headings of “Practical Life”, “Language”, “Mathematics” and “Other.’