Have you ever been frustrated with trying to teach one of your kids? That’s normal!
Every child is different, and yet in the teaching of my 14, there are some things I noticed that might help you in your experience. I found apart from learning styles, such as visual, auditory, etc., there are also distinct motivational differences in kids.
I boiled it down to basically four different motivational categories my kids seemed to fall into, although each brought their own distinctive traits into play as well.
# 1 The Self-Directed Learner
This child likes to set his own goals and thinks in terms of challenging himself. He loves to pick a target and shoot at it (often a first born). He is bored with too much guidance and needs to work at this own pace. He is not easily discouraged by setbacks, he seems to do his best when allowed as much freedom as possible to design his own plan, set his own pace, and set his own objectives on his way to his ultimate goal. Be careful not to discourage him by making him stick to the plan in the book. He may have thought of a better way to do it!
# 2 The Sensitive Learner
This child has a tender heart that won’t take a lot of adversity before growing melancholy and discouraged. You need to stay close to him, supplying him with achievable goals and lots of verbal praise and encouragement to keep him from bogging down in the tough spots. Again, don’t make him stick to the book’s plan if it overwhelms him. The sensitive student usually does a good job in the end because he tends to think in terms of perfection, but it can also discourage him as he sometimes feels he just doesn’t measure up to his own expectations. It also can cause him to work slowly and painstakingly. He should not be rushed unnecessarily, as he may tend to feel that he has been pushed into finishing the work a deadline at the expense of satisfying his heart that it was done right. Frequent hugs are good medicine.
# 3 The Slothful Learner
This student is easily distracted from a mundane task because because he’s not overly excited about sustained effort to begin with. He doesn’t like to push himself but can stand some pushing from without to go beyond doing the minimum required. He needs plenty of attention and some accountability (I don’t test all my kids, but this type of learner I do) as he is more likely to skim through an assignment just to be able to report it done than to stop and think what the reason for the assignment might be. He needs to be shown the rewards of persistent effort because his automatic tendency is to reason that it is unwise to put off anything until tomorrow that can be put until next year. Sticks and carrots are most useful with this child, but don’t forget to love him even though he tweaks your patience at times.
#4 The Steady Learner
The steady learner is a consistent fellow who generally learns fairly easily in most subjects, although like anyone else, he finds some subjects more interesting than others. He tends to move through material steadily, without spurts or splutters of motivation. He tends to get a lot done because he is not easily distracted, discouraged, or defeated. He’s an overall good student, and little trouble to teach.
You may find some of your kids are combinations of these, but hopefully that will give you some guidelines to help deal with your school day. Remember God has specially designed your child and made you to be exactly the right parent to deal with each of your unique kids.
What is really fun is when they grow older and you begin to see, “OH- that’s why God him that way!”
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