Thursday, August 28, 2008

Handwriting and Learning Styles

In the old days, if a child’s handwriting was messy or hard to decipher, the problem was seen as the child's sloppiness or lack of attention to detail. Today, we know that the cause could be one or more of the following:
· undeveloped fine or super-fine motor skills
· vision problems
· behavioural issues
· dysgraphia (inappropriately sized and spaced letters, illegible writing when copying text or when creating their own text, mixture of upper/lower case letters)
· dyspraxia
· non-visual non-tactile learning style.

(Follow this link to find out more about learning styles.)

While most schools teach handwriting in the first few years of primary education, it is often not considered a priority, particularly in today’s world of computers, mobile phones, palm tops, etc. However, there are some who beg to differ. Says a teacher: “Sloppy handwriting is just another symptom of a pervasive disregard in our educational system for matters of form.” Says another: “A doctor’s sloppy handwriting can kill a patient.”

What is your view? Is handwriting important? Please take a few moments of your time to write a comment on this post.

For tips on how to improve your child’s handwriting, have a look here:
· Basic handwriting for kids

For tips how to set up the optimal environment in which to teach your child handwriting or other skills, analyse their learning style here:
· Analyse your child’s learning style

Friday, August 22, 2008

Homework, homework, homework

“Responsibility for Homework: Children's Ideas about Self-Regulation” is a fascinating study into children’s attitudes towards self-motivation and homework. Pamela M. Warton’s research confirms what Learning Styles have known all along: some children are more responsible about doing their homework than others.

In Learning Styles, we look at the following elements of the Learning Style Pyramid to determine the child’s attitude to homework:
· internal versus external motivation (also known as self-starter versus awards-driven)
· responsibility
· persistence
· conformity
· teacher authority (the child’s need to please the teacher)
· parental authority (the child’s need to please the parent).

What Pamela M. Warton discovered, however, was an age-related shift in ideas: from others-regulated in 7-year-old students to self- regulated in 11-year-old students, irrespective of the students’ gender. This confirms that learning style elements such as motivation, responsibility, persistence, conformity and attitude to authority are learnt rather than biological, and that they can change over time.

Do you know your child’s learning style preferences for motivation, responsibility, persistence, conformity and authority? Click here to find out.

Of course, Learning Styles also give you the blueprint for your child’s optimal learning environment and helps you set up the homework area, taking the following needs into consideration:
· the amount of light
· temperature
· background noise
· furniture
· study groups
· structure
· routine
· and others.

What is your child’s optimal study environment? The answer is just a few clicks away.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Learning Styles and Discipline in Class and at Home

Some children seem naturally better behaved than others, and it’s easy to put it down to personality or upbringing. However, research has shown that learning styles have a big impact on a student’s discipline in the classroom as well as in the home environment.

To find out more about learning styles, please click here.

Auditory Learning Style: If the child is not auditory, he will find it hard to listen, be it to the lesson or to the rules. You can help him by having plenty of visual and tactile reminders of the rules or of the study material (lists, models, photos, etc.)

Internally Motivated Learning Style: If the child is internally motivated, she will not be interested in star charts, good grades, chocolates. Withdrawal of privileges as a consequence would not have a positive effect, either. The only way to motivate an internally motivated child is by getting her interested in learning or in obeying the rules.

Nonconformity: Children who have a nonconforming learning style will often challenge rules “because they can” or “to see what happens” or “on principle”. You will have a much better chance of getting them to obey if you ask instead of command and call your rules “suggestions”.

Other learning style elements that will influence discipline include: mobility, parental authority, teacher authority, background noise, external auditory style (the need to talk in order to understand complex things), tactile learning style, kinesthetic learning style.
To discover your learning style, please start here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Learning Styles and Hearing Loss

I-pods are tiny miracles of modern technology. Teenagers, tweenagers and even younger children use them every day. Recent studies, however, have detected an alarming trend among Generation Y and generation Z: temporary or even permanent damage to their hearing.

If your children have a learning style preference for background noise while they concentrate, or if their learning style is auditory external, they may use their I-pods for longer periods of time than their peers.

Do you know your child’s learning style preferences?

Dr. Patti Huang, an otolaryngologist at The Austin Diagnostic Clinic has this to say about I-pods: “the earbuds preferred by today’s music listeners are even more likely to cause hearing loss than the older muff-type headphones. Since earbuds are placed directly into the ear, they can boost the sound signal by as much as six to nine decibels.”

As soon as they remove the earbuds, music listeners need to re-adjust their hearing to normal conversation levels or to the volume at which a classroom teacher speaks. Typically such an readjustment takes several minutes, provided no damage, temporary or permanent, has taken place.

During the re-adjustment phase, the child will typically not be able to hear very well and may miss your requests or new information. But the news is even worse in case of ear damage.

''When you have temporary damage for a few days such as muffled hearing, that can influence the child's ability to learn in the classroom,'' said Amanda Niskar, a nurse-epidemiologist at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Particularly if the child’s learning style is auditory, which is an unfortunate irony.

The experts’ advice is simple: lower the volume. It’s not about the generation gap, it’s not about the traditional war between parents and children on the issue of noise: it’s about your children’s health and their learning success.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Concentration Problems and Learning Styles: why we struggle

Many factors may make it hard for us to concentrate:
· Stress,
· Anxiety,
· Fatigue (mental or physical),
· Boredom,
· Depression,
· Unsuitable diet resulting in yo-yo blood sugar levels.

However, the good news is, our unique learning style can actually help us concentrate, provided we know what our learning style preferences are.

(To analyse your learning style, please click here.)

Many elements make up our learning style:
· Our optimal environment (including lighting, temperature, the amount of chaos, etc.);
· Our preference for the size of team in which we work;
· Our need for detail;
· Our need for variety;
· The senses through which we best absorb information;
· ...

Do you concentrate better when under pressure with a deadline looming? Do you think most productively when sitting on the sofa? Can you solve problems best when you’re listening to the hum of the world outside your window? Find out.