Recently our family had a reunion in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Forty-one of forty-two of us gathered in a large cabin and enjoyed each other’s company. (One of us could not attend as he is currently serving a mission.) We rented a cabin which was capable of hosting all of us. The entire event was beyond delightful, punctuated by good conversations, silliness, delicious food, engaging activities and renewed connections.
One of my favorite things was witnessing the 27 grandchildren interact and reconnect with each other since their families reside all over the United States. On the ground floor of our cabin were an indoor pool, theater, game room pool table and several bedrooms filled with bunk beds. it was a teenager hangout dreams. The only time these related friends were seen was for family activities and, of course, food.
During one morning, my four-year-old nephew decided he was going to leave the cabin via the front door without his parents. Swiftly, a fifteen-year-old cousin locked onto the child, holding him tightly, restraining him from leaving while explaining that he couldn’t leave. Soon, yelling ensued. With seconds an aunt appeared, “Use your words. Not your hands.”
Sitting quietly in the background, I witnessed this encounter, pondering the various ways of handling preschoolers. I recognized the teenager was a kinesthetic learner. He naturally assumed the four-year-old would learn best kinesthetically as well. But would he?
Watching my siblings with their children has taught me much about learning styles during this reunion. My brother wanting to teach his son something, quickly sketched out an idea. The son added his thoughts ~ also on paper. Both demonstrated their visual learning style.
Another nephew likes to learn by physically interacting with his environment. He touches everything and constantly moves. He even climbed into the waterfall on our hike! Why? Because he wanted to learn all he could. He needed to feel the water to fulfill his learning needs.
In contrast, his older cousin stood back from events. She listened and absorbed. While reading she hummed. I even ‘caught’ her listing to music while reading.
Despite being from the same family and having similar traits, we we demonstrated individuality which led me to ponder … Can learning styles be identified through observation?
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband and spirited long-haired miniature dachshunds. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including MBTI Learning Styles: A Practical Approach, The Art of Learning Journals, Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.