WHAT DO I DO WHEN I HAVE A NON-AUDITORY LEARNER THAT TUNES OUT?
We are asked for our opinion on this a lot because many parents who utilize our curriculum are very in-tune with their child’s learning style. So, what do you do if you have a “kinesthetic learner” (etc) that tunes out during reading portions of any curriculum? We’ll share our opinion below by copying/pasting our response to someone who recently asked the same about their 7-year-old child.
THE SOLUTION (OUR OPINION):
We will try to give some personal feedback, but please know you can take it or leave it as everyone will have varying opinions on this. From our personal standpoint, it is important to help children understand that all teaching is going to include a component of listening to someone talk [teacher, parent, expert, etc] or reading [the information from the teacher, parent, curriculum, expert]. Whether that is through a living book, a textbook, a teacher’s lecture, or whatever else… there has to be a certain element of this when learning, and children need to be taught to understand AND accept this. So the first tip we would recommend is to continue with your child, so he knows that this will be expected of him throughout life. He cannot have a successful education or future career with kinesthetic activities, alone, and the earlier he can learn that, the better he will be. All kids around age 7 will wonder why and disagree with this because they are natural explorers (lol), but it’s important to start laying that foundation whenever you feel is age-appropriate. Of note: some parents don’t begin laying this foundation until the child is a bit older (around 9 or 10+), and they let any younger child still learn through 100% exploration and non-structured education or “adventuring” through the world around them. This is entirely family-dependent and based upon parents’ desires.
You will notice that Campfire is the only curriculum (that we are aware of) that truly utilizes the Campfire Method and truly educates the entire person, with ALL styles of learning incorporated, with a heavy emphasis on written, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic learning, etc. Campfire understands that children have many different learning styles and caters to that, to help invoke a passion-led approach to learning as well as memory retention. BUT it is still important for children to know that the rest of the world may NOT cater to that. They need to be prepared for real life. They should try to GROW in learning styles that do not come naturally. For example, one can be a natural-born kinesthetic learner but still develop skills to be a good auditory or visual learner, as well. Many people don’t realize this is possible because they weren’t raised in an education that taught them through varying styles.
In teaching the whole person, Campfire is not just catering to different learning styles, but we are ALSO helping students to learn OTHER styles. This is so, so important for their success in the real world. The more they can learn to utilize multiple learning styles, the more successful they will be in life. They will not be stuck in, “But I can only learn this if I can see it,” or “I can only learn this if I can read it…” They will be able to adapt to many more situations because they’ve been utilizing a whole person approach to education all along.
While application and retention can be truly solidified through kinesthetic learning (one of the things Campfire whole-heartedly believes in and approves), teaching cannot rely solely on kinesthetic activities. For example, one cannot teach about the history of a war or how a volcanic explosion happens through kinesthetic activities alone. There MUST be information that is first conveyed about the science of how a volcano works or the history of such-and-such war BEFORE the kinesthetic activity can fully make sense. Of course, as parents we all know this, but our children… not so much. They are more likely to ask, “But, why?” Because their brain currently learns the way it learns, and they want to tune out the rest. In our opinion, that’s where it is important for us to come in and challenge them.
So our next piece of advice would be to challenge your child, appropriately for his age/skill level. With him being so young, you might expect a lot less from him than you might a 10- or 15-year-old. At this age, we might suggest letting him tune out for a bit of it. That’s okay. He doesn’t have to grasp 100% of the lessons right now. BUT expect him to be able to tell you ONE thing that you read about. If he can’t, you could always make him sit still and read through the lesson AGAIN (a second time). He won’t like that, but after you do this once or twice, he’s guaranteed to get you an answer the next time you do a lesson, haha! This will be teaching him to step outside of his comfort zone and incorporate other learning styles… while still bringing in those elements that he loves (all of the kinesthetic activities along the way).
One other thing we want to highly emphasize is that in many of the units, Campfire often pauses throughout the lessons to say, “Pause for a Cool Teacher Moment.” This is a moment to bring in some tactile or kinesthetic (or visual, etc) breaks to really help the child grasp concepts as you go along. This is great for children who don’t do well listening for longer periods of time. Now, some parents don’t do those because their particular student does better listening to the whole lesson at once, and then moving onto activities. However, for children like you are describing, these would be especially beneficial to helping to keep him stay engaged in kinesthetic (etc) ways throughout the reading process. The “Cool Teacher Moments” vary between units, but usually you will find at least one or two of these throughout each lesson. We highly recommend utilizing as many of them as possible.
Even so, it is important to teach children that listening is vital (whether that is listening to a lesson, a teacher, a video, a read aloud, a textbook, etc). If they tune out, keep working with them. Don’t expect too much from a 7-year-old (depending on parental preference), and as each year goes by, expect more and more.
Remember that a child’s education isn’t just about material, but also about equipping them with tools to always continue educating themselves.