Learning Style vs. Teaching Style

School board with colour chalk

This post is part of a 5 day blog series titled “How Do I Teach A Reluctant Learner”, part of a community “How Do I Teach…” event generously hosted by The Enchanted Homeschooling Mom. Please visit EHM’s website to see all of the titles in this 5 day series.


A learning style is the method in which an individual learns best. Fortunately there has been a lot of research conducted on learning styles in the last decade. Unfortunately so many learning style combinations have been discovered that it’s almost overwhelming to even think out. For the sake of this post we’re going to deal with the 3 “mother” styles, the 3 styles in which all other styles fit.

Visual – learn by seeing
Auditory – learn by hearing
Kinesthetic – learn by doing

Do you have a preferred way of learning? I am much more receptive to a visual learning style than the other types. I’d venture to say I am hopelessly lost when it comes to auditory learning.

Just as you have a preferred style, or combination or styles, so does your child. You may be surprised to learn that your child’s learning style may not match your learning style, and if you have multiple kids you probably have multiple learning styles!

This is all quite natural and homeschooling allows us the advantage of teaching to our child’s learning style. We have to be careful, however, not to focus on our teaching style over their learning style.

Our teaching styles are largely based on our learning style. Auditory learners tend to teach with more of a lecture & answer style. Visual learners probably lean more toward using videos, textbooks and other written media. Kinesthetic learners are often project-based teachers who like to keep little hands busy.

None of the above is wrong, it’s all natural. The key is to recognize your styles and compromise when necessary.

Let’s look at examples in my life.

I have a son who is the definition of a kinesthetic learner. This child crafts constantly, draws obsessively and enjoys nothing more than creating. He does not enjoy writing, workbooks or reading. He’s often loud and will act out when he is bored, and anything that doesn’t involve using his hands is boring to him. He is the reason this blog exists. He is a much stronger hands-on learner than I am and I found that when it was time to “do school” he would complain. A lot. So we talked and made some compromises.

I combine his writing, reading and spelling into one and give him three short assignments a week.

I allow him to play with small toys or draw while I’m reading aloud.

I put away *my* favorite math curriculum in favor of one that is colorful and game-based.

I ensure he has plenty of time for exercise during the day.

I could go on & on about my children and our learning styles vs. teaching style discoveries but in the end, the point I am trying to drive home is this:

It is our responsibility as homeschooling parents to relinquish our ideas of what education is in favor of what works best for our child.

Check out all of the posts in this series (all links will be active after 8/23/13):
Day 1 – Is My child a reluctant learner?
Day 2 – Is this Curriculum a Match for my Child?
Day 3 – Is My Child Physically Ready for Homeschooling?
Day 4 – Learning Styles Vs. Teaching Styles
Day 5 – How to Engage Reluctant Learners



Filed under Other stuff

8 responses to “Learning Style vs. Teaching Style

  1. It’s so much easier to teach using my teaching style – but I soon realized that teaching according to each of my kids’ learning styles worked out best in the long-run!

  2. This is hard to do, especially when you have multiple children. I am homeschooling 4 kids this year, and all of them have a completely different learning style. It’s hard to change my teaching style for each of them too!

    • Meg

      I hear ya! I have 5 and they’re all different. It is hardest the first year, it does get easier once you know what works best for them. As much as I’d like to sit my kids down and say “Ok! You’re all going to learn this and you’re going to learn it this way” that just won’t work and doesn’t honor their unique spirits. They don’t go to school for a reason, I have to keep reminding myself that if I don’t teach to them and their needs we’re not doing much better of a job! It really does get easier, I promise 🙂

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