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Jodee C Kulp

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Different folks, different strokes in learning....
By Jodee C Kulp   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, May 18, 2008
Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2008

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Embracing and enhancing differences in learning

It is no accident my daughter knows more phone numbers than I do, all the songs on the rock radio station word-for-word and could recite sixty breeds of dogs at age 3 - but she has had a very difficult time in school and still has great difficulty reading. Yet, if asked to remember something probably would not, could not and think she should not. And so her schooling experience has produced results less than adequate for a child who is capable of learning, but not in the usual way.

Ask her to look at a pile of thirty items for 30 seconds and then tell you what she saw, she will remember very few, get frustrated and be reduced to less than her capabilities. Give her control of the pile of “stuff” let her handle it, talk about it , smell it. She will ace all items almost every time. Ask her to feel and differentiate between a variety of coins with her eyes closed, she is frustrated. Let her spend 30 seconds with them, doing her own thing....she’s got them covered and knows each one. Every new experience, every knew concept is a challenge and we’ve spent many hours playing with learning to discover how a new concept can be grasped at home prior to presentation in school, so she is not so frustrated.
How we teach her may be helpful to other providers living with complex learners.
  •  We give her emotional Wheaties .... “You are sharp, we don’t know how sharp yet, but we’re going to find out.” “Learning differences are only disabilities if you want them to be, we just need to find out how to get the information into you in a fun way.”
  • She guides us in discovering how to reach a gate to get the information into her brain. On varying days we use different methods and when one doesn’t work we move on to other paths of entry.
  • We make learning fun, challenging and rewarding, we inspect what we expect and don’t settle for sloppiness in those areas she is capable of performing well in.
  •  We enjoy the small steps toward a goal. It is now a race to learn, it is understanding how to learn.
  • We use multi-sensory learning “I show you and you watch me, then I show you and you tell me what I am doing, finally you show me and teach me how you do it.” By using this approach you can avoid
  • We utilize each of the seven intelligences while teaching, using the gifts to reach the learner and enhancing growth in weaker areas.

These seven intelligences are:

  1. Linguistic:        
    Learn best by verbalizing, hearing or seeing words. They express their verbal ability by telling descriptive stories, remembering commercials word for word, and enjoying wordplay like tongue twisters and puns. (like to write, spin tall tales, tell jokes and stories, have a good memory for names, places, dates or trivia, enjoy reading books, spell words, like word games, appreciate nonsense rhymes and tongue twisters)
  2. Spatial:
    Think in images and pictures. (spend free time in art activities, easily read maps, charts, diagrams, like movies, jigsaw puzzles, daydream a lot.)
  3. Kinesthetic:      
    Process knowledge through body sensations. They need opportunities to learn by moving or acting things out. (move, twitch, tap, fidget while sitting in a chair, need to touch people when they talk, cleverly mimic other people’s gestures, mannerism or behaviors, enjoy scary amusement rides, sports, hand skills)
  4. Logical-Mathematical:  
    Think conceptually, they explore patterns, categories and relationships by actively manipulating the environment and experimenting in a logical way. (compute arithmetic problems in their head, ask questions like “when did the universe begin?”, play chess, checkers, strategy games and win, reason things out logically and clearly, devise experiments if they don’t understand things, enjoy logic puzzles.)
  5. Musical:                       
    Learning best by singing, humming. They are sensitive to non-verbal sounds in the environment. (play instruments, remember melodies of songs, know when music is off-key, collect music or records, keep time to rhythm)
  6. Interpersonal:   
    Learn best by relating and cooperating, They organize, coordinate and at their “worst” manipulate.” (have a lot of friends, socialize a great deal, seem to be “street smart”, serve as family mediator when disputes arise, enjoy playing group games with other children, are empathetic for other’s feelings.)
  7. Intrapersonal:    Learn best when left to themselves, they are self-motivating, intuitive and reflective. (display a sense of independence or strong will, react with strong opinions, seem to have a sense of deep self confidence, march to a different beat, their style, their dress, their behavior or general attitude)
Different folks, need different strokes in learning, in discipline and in living life in general and I enjoy different folks. 
If you are living with them, however I recommend two great books for deeper insight into this approach to learning can be found by reading “The Way They Learn” by Cynthia Tobias and “Unlocking Your Child’s Learning Potential.” by Cheri Fuller.

Web Site: Better Endings

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