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The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles: A Fresh and Demystifying Approach Paperback – March 1, 2009
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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About the Author
Carol Barnier has been helping people reach, teach and better understand the nontraditional learner for years. In her books, workshops, and media appearances, she has the uncommon ability to couple her trademark humor with truly useful information you can use immediately.
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The author feels very strongly that you must teach a child they way they are able to learn. And this is one place where I disagree with her. (pg. 25) She states that the goal isn't that a teacher is comfortable teaching, but that the child is comfortable. I understand what she was getting at. It's true that too many teachers only teach the way they learn and refuse to be flexible. But, I think that, actually, parents have to find a middle ground with their kids. A curriculum or teaching method has to work well for both parent and child. Sometimes a curriculum will work for one but not the other. Not good! It must work for both. It must make sense to both. If it doesn't make sense to the teacher, then the teacher will either a) procrastinate or b) not understand what he/she is teaching. If it doesn't make sense to the student, then learning isn't happening.
As for having to try lots and lots of approaches, I fall more in the camp where a quick survey (oral or written) is a good place to start---a place to start, not the final answer. I don't have time to try and use multiple approaches with every child. I have three children learning simultaneously plus taking care of my home, pet, and extended family, plus church responsibilities.
I also wish she would have mentioned, which I've never seen anywhere, that many curriculum are bent towards one learning style. So, consider which learning style and pick curriculums accordingly. Ms. Barnier's ideas are great, but many moms (like me) don't have the execution or planning time to implement a lot of these ideas when one's teaching multiple children. Picking an appropriate curriculum that works for both parent and child is a much more doable option to helping a child be successful in their learning, than planning modifications for every lesson. Supplementary approaches can help when you have time--and that's what this book contains.
There is also another area I was surprised the author didn't address. I believe that there are learning styles, learning differences, and learning disabilities. Learning Styles have to do with preference, learning differences are learning styles to a greater degree--when a child struggles with learning in a particular modality, and learning disabilities occur when a child is unable to learn from a particular modality. I think this is important to note. The reason we talk about learning styles is because we want children to enjoy learning more and to more successfully master what they are learning. Understanding learning styles is usually talked about in the context of struggling students, but it is also helpful to address with students that are doing well. When all students advance in school, it will be helpful for them to know what tools help them study and understand information best. Even when they are taught in a certain way, they will go to the library or their dorm room and study in ways that work best for them.
One last note... my husband pointed out to me that children need to be taught in their weaker learning styles in their stronger subjects--because they do need to learn how to process and learn from those methods as well if they intend on pursuing advanced education. His advice was to modify and adapt the teaching approach for subjects that a child really struggles with. I thought this was a good thing to consider.
I know that my review goes against the grain. Instead of this book, I'd recommend Brain-Based Strategies to reach every learner. It's a much easier book to use and talks about learning styles in a much broader context of how children learn and process information.
No single homeschool resource has fired me up as much as this single book! I couldn't put it down. Carol Barnier has WONDERFUL and creative ideas for making our homeschool fun and exciting. These ideas aren't way out there--they are very practical and easy to implement. My kids and I have reaped the benefits of her creativity and ability to "think outside the box" throughout this school year and I am very grateful to have found such a wonderful resource to teach my "hands-on" learners.
If you are looking to make your homeschool--or just your time with your kids--both fun and educational, you will want to take a look at this book!