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Individual learning styles

Posted on: Monday, 22 December 2008 @ 11:02pm
Blatting about
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[imported from livejournal and backdated]

Again with the attempt to keep up recording.  I have a funky silver Smiggle diary which I'm going to be using for homeschooling notes, and if I remember I'll transpose them on here and point the relatives at it, as well as anyone else who's interested in homeschooling or unschooling, just on the offchance :)

Anyway, learning styles.

This is one of those things that gets bandied around a hell of a lot, and every school in the history of the known universe claims that they cater to the child's individual learning styles.

I've yet to actually see that put into practice.  Seriously, it's gotta be tricky when you're trying to manage 40 kids in a classroom.

I know a little bit about individual learning styles.  I don't know enough to comprehensively state what Tao's and Ruan's are, because they're nearly 4 and 2 and I don't know if these things develop over time or are inherent and just need to be observed.  I'm observing as hard as I can ;)



So Tao is pretty good with numbers.  Earlier this year we made a bit of a deal about teaching him the alphabet and counting.  He recognises letters of the alphabet, and he seems to be able to read some words, but other than a few promising fits and spurts, didn't really take to reading.  Considering he's not 4 yet, we didn't consider this a big deal.

Numbers now.  It was fairly evident from early on that he didn't just parrot the numbers.  At some point he understood that when you held up three fingers there were three fingers there.  Not long after that he worked out that the squiggly thing that he was originally writing as an E, and then Mummy told him to write the E backwards to get it right, was a representation of three objects.  3 was the first number he wrote, maybe because he's 3, and he's going to be 4 on his birthday.  1 and 5 followed soon afterwards.

Then we were at the Medicare office waiting for our ticket to be called, and I had exactly no idea that he recognised numbers up to 14, seeing as he seemed to have difficulty counting to 12 (though he can go to 10 forward and back).  Well, who needs to parrot numbers anyway if you can read and manipulate them, I say :P

I remember Josh taking him through the extreme basics of maths once, using a counting book that one of the relatives had given him for Christmas.  At the back of the counting book were all sorts of illustrated sums, like you have four chickens and add another three chickens, how many chickens do you have? He didn't seem to get it, despite Josh's very patient explanations.

Sometime after I took him through the very basics again, but I was using Stuff.  You have a pen.  There's another two pens? How many pens? Fwee, he says.  Yes.  And now how many apples in the fruit bowl? Coiunt them.   There were seven.  Now he has one and Ruan has one, how many left? Five.  Good.  There's your lesson in addition and substraction for the day, and about all he had the attention span for.

Fast forward a little bit again with the absolute once in a blue moon explanation of addition and subtraction as appropriate situations come up.  Josh has been raiding the local video store lately, and hired out weeklies for the kids.  They got 5 videos.  Tao watched 2 of them.  He then told me that he had borrowed 5 videos, and watched 2, which meant he had 3 left to watch.  No prompting, no explanations, just him straight off the bat.

So today I took a plunge and broached the subject of multiplication.  He had been foraging in the fridge for a snack, and asked if he could have some of my chocolate (Whittakers, yum!).  I said there was a bit up the top already broken off that he could have.  He took that, and asked if I'd broken it off for him.  I said no, it was the other half of the bit I'd eaten earlier, I'd broken it because I didn't want to eat too much chocolate.  How many pieces did he have in his bit? Four.  That was half of what was there originally, which means there was twice that, two lots of four (four plus four) is eight.

Tao started nibbling it down block by block, cheerfully announcing "Now there's there's there's one...all gone!" Very cutely, not that I'm biased or anything,


When we first told the kids we were going to have another baby (many months ago now), and that it was growing in Mummy's tummy, Tao of course wanted to know "How did it get in there?"

Josh perhaps stupidly hoped that Tao would be satisfied with "Daddy put it there."

Yeh, right.  "How?"

if I could have thought straight I would have explained it to him but I was laughing much too hard.  Josh being slightly prudish successfully managed to distract him before he could press for further answers.  I'm sure it will come up again.

To date I've been showing him fetal development stuff online, he knows that boys can't have babies because they don't have uteruses, and that babies get food through an umbilical cord (which looks like a rope) from the placenta (which is made of meat), and when they're born they don't usually have teeth and have to have booby juice until they're big enough to have food.

Come a long way from when he last asked me a question about proteins (and I wondered where the hell he'd gotten that from), and had me telling him I couldn't remember and would have to look it up, and we looked it up on Wikipedia together.  (associated skills - research and The Authority doesn't necessarily have all the answers ;)


Currently not so quick on the uptake in the numbers department, but she loves being read to, lots.  She's much quicker on the predictive/memory words thing than Tao was.  You know, where you're reading them a familiar book and have them "guess" the next words in the sentence.  Tao didn't really start saying the next words til 3-3.5, Ruan is a bit over 2 and does it often.

At least we got the toddler babble word attempts with her though, Tao went straight from baby babble to recognisable words with heavy toddler lisp at 11 months or so, sentence fragments at 1.5 and hasn't stopped since.  Ruan on the other hand intermittently spat words out from a bit after 1 but has only just started talking.

She's also a lot more into drawing than Tao is.  Tao loves painting and scribbling, he will quite happily throw himself into it when I bring on the art stuff, but doesn't ask much.  These days I think it's because he knows the house needs to be organised so I can find the bloody art stuff.  He can take it or leave it.  If the inspiration takes Ruan though, and she is denied her crayons for whatever reason or not presented with the opportunity to paint, she takes matters into her own cute little hands and will scrounge around for a drawing implement (usually one of the pens on my desk) and something to draw on (usually an envelope, if she can find a bigger piece of paper even better, these days she even asks me if it's okay to draw on).

In the meantime I'm trying to work out where this girly girl came from, she loves pink, loves her "butterfly" dress (pink fairy dress mother in law bought her for her 2nd birthday), also loves orange,  butterflies, loves dressing up (seriously, she will go through 2-3 outfit changes at least if we let her).  Sometimes her dress sense gets a bit garish but for the most part she's remarkably colour coordinated.  Not just in the sense that she wants to wear say heer yellow undies with her yellow pants and yellow top, but on another day it's a stripey pinck shirt and stripey pink pants and she WOULD NOT REST or get dressed until she had also found stripey pink undies.  Good thing we actually had stripey pink undies, and that the colour and pattern matchings don't need to happen all the time!

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