This month’s topic is Individualizing Instruction. This simply means making the materials and ideas that is provided understandable by everyone in the group. Sometimes that means simplifying it for the little ones and other times it means extending it to fill an interest, yet others it means adding to it to make it more challenging for older/advanced children.
One of my favorite things about MGT is that they offer ideas to adapt activities to simplify or make more of a challenge. But even with their suggestions, individualizing can still look different. For example, if the topic really intrigues the kiddos we can add to the provided ideas and expand it out to cover a longer time period. An example of this happened last week. In March, we are talking about “At the Pond”. We played a dice game with letter sounds and items that begin with the letters PKF. The game used frogs jumping on lily pads with animals/items. After playing the game with the tiny frogs, we got out my bug/animal collection and we sorted out what would live in the pond. Then we played with the pond critters in our homemade blue play-dough (water). This extended the activity which reinforces the concepts we are learning about.
Another way to individualize the materials is to adapt our activities and projects by the children’s learning styles. Learning styles fascinate me! It is amazing how, even as adults, we all have one way of learning that suits us better. Once we discover what a child’s learning style is it is best if we can provide ample opportunities to learn in that way. That is not to say it is the ONLY way to teach to that child. They should to be able to learn in multiple ways but there will be one way that they will be naturally inclined to absorb new info. There are three main learning styles: Visual (linguistic and spatial), Auditory, and Kinesthetic (movement). Think about what way you learn best… Personally, I am a visual-spatial learner. I do better with charts, demonstrations, videos, and other visual materials. I seem to never forget a face but I have a hard time with names. Here is an interesting site on learning styles for kids. While homeschooling ZC, I have discovered that he is a strong Kinesthetic learner but is also very good at auditory learning. I can remember the first time that I discovered this! I was shocked and exhausted at the same time. We were doing circle time with older daycare kids and ZC was getting to the age I wanted him to learn to sit while a teacher was talking. So I had him sit beside me as I began to “teach”. It was quite a ride! Somehow, I had this envision that he would sit perfectly still and be my best listener, the “teachers pet.” Boy… was I mistaken. He wasn’t bad but he just couldn’t sit still; he was everywhere! Needless to say, I was frustrated! However… The moment Dad came home little Mr. ZC starts spilling his guts as to what all he had learned at circle time. My jaw about hit the floor! He quoted me even to the details that I don’t even think the bigger kids remembered. At that point, I knew he was going to need more than the “sit and listen approach”. Thus began my search for more info on learning styles.
As I observe the kids as we play, I take note of how they connect the best way. I try to provide several ways to offer the same ideas. I have had several children that have come to play with us that share ZC’s need to move and learn. We individualize our instruction and make the best of our learning.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great week!