Quality Not Quantity

January 24, 2014
Quality Not Quantity
By Kelli Brodrecht
6th Grade Instructor
Surprisingly, this is not about the quantity or quality of time you spend with your children.
Instead it is all about the time your children spend with their books and notes. In our fast-paced
world, we often find ourselves and our children overwhelmed by their extra-curricular activities,
family commitments, church obligations, and oh yes, homework. It is difficult for our children to
juggle it all and still fulfill their role as a student well. Although there is not a magic formula for
completion of homework and studying, there are ways to encourage your child to use their time
more productively.
Identifying how they learn is just as important, if not more important, than identifying what is to
be mastered. Many children pour hours of time into their studies with little benefit. They are
doing everything they are asked to do, but the material is not “sticking” in a way to produce the
desired benefits. So, what is to be done?
First, parents and teachers need to understand that students learn in different ways. It is always a
temptation to tell a child “how” to study. “Read over your notes ten times.” “Write all of your
notes over again.” “Make flash cards.” “Teach yourself the material aloud.” “Call a friend and
talk through it with them.” “Outline the chapter.” The list goes on. All of these are great study
techniques and highly recommended, but for some students the desired outcome will not come
from implementing one of these. Everyone learns differently, and what works for you may not
work for your child.
So, how can you help your child? Help them identify their learning style and find techniques that
will play to the way they learn. In general, everyone has a mixture of learning styles, but there
are always one or two dominant styles of learning.
To focus on academic learning, here are some categories of learning styles that apply the best to
school work. Visual Learners prefer to learn with images and pictures. They remember best
what they see. Aural Learners learn through listening to words and music. They remember best
what they hear. Verbal Learners learn by using words, spoken and written. They learn best
when they relay the information to be mastered to others either aloud or written. Kinesthetic
Learners learn by using their bodies and senses. They benefit from finding real application to
what they are learning and focusing on the facts. For some, movements associated with content
can help them remember. Generally people use a combination of learning styles. However, it is
obvious that a person who is visual and verbal will learn poorly when they try to absorb the
materials aurally exclusively. The key is to identify how your child learns best, and then to help
form study habits that play to those strengths.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some children learn best alone, while others need to study
along with someone else. Someone who is a strongly verbal learner may need to talk about what
they are learning with a hearer. That hearer does not necessarily have to engage the learner or
even understand what is being mastered, but they need to be a listener and potentially ask
questions if something seems confusing. By talking it through, the learner has solidified the
material in their mind and worked out a higher level of comprehension. That same student could
have spent hours alone reading with a drastically different outcome.
Finally, remember that your child does not necessarily learn the way you learn. It is important for
students to try different study techniques as they find what works best for them. Forcing them to
study in a way that makes the most sense to you is not always the most productive. As students
search for how to best maximize their study time, it is imperative they understand how they learn
so they can study efficiently and productively.
Identifying specific learning styles can be tricky. There are many books to read or online tests to
take to gain insight into how your child learns. I recommend having your child take a few of the
following simple tests to help identify their learning style. Parents would also benefit from taking
the tests as well.
Online Tests:
Index of Learning Styles, NC State: http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html
VARK Questionnaire: http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire
Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-learning-styles-quiz
Lumosity: http://www.learning-styles-online.com/inventory/questions.php?cookieset=y
Looking at Type and Learning Styles by Gordon D. Lawrence
Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis and Kindle Hodson
The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias