Gabriel is a visual and kinesthetic learner. You would think that I would use this important piece of information to help me in planning out school lessons. In the beginning of each school year, I always have this intention, selecting curriculum that is more hands-on and planning activities that I know he would love. But, life gets busy, and I soon realize that planning for a student like Gabriel takes a lot of time. So, I do what’s easy for me: I talk and make him do worksheets. Can you see where this is going?
I went to a meeting for homeschooling families of children with special needs, and they discussed this very topic. The speaker said that most children with special needs have their biggest weakness in auditory processing and their biggest strength in visual and hands-on learning. So why do we teach to their weakest sense, not their strengths? I answered this earlier … because it’s easy! Isn’t it easier to read the science lesson out loud than gathering all the materials needed for that fun experiment?
This week, one of our history lessons was about the life of King David. I quickly gathered a few items from the kids’ toy box: toy pliers with my elastic headband made to look like a sling, a small plastic ball, foam swords, and a construction paper crown. So I still lectured, but bringing out different items throughout the lesson definitely engaged Gabriel a lot more than just a straight read-through.
Even curriculum advertised as hands-on have some amount of lecturing and worksheets. I don’t think that a visual and kinesthetic learner has to avoid it. Otherwise, those weaknesses will continue to be weaknesses and a huge source of frustration for him.
(Photo source: Wikimedia Commons)