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Supporting different learning styles of Hawaii’s children

Viewpoint

I am a homeschooling mother of three, an entrepreneur involved in running three small businesses, an administrator for our local homeschool group and a representative for my county in our statewide homeschool network.

This National School Choice Week (Jan. 24-30), I am thrilled to share about our family’s education journey and the tips we’ve discovered along the way.

Early in my parenting path, I recognized in my first child a vastly different style in the way he absorbed information. He had to touch, manipulate and explore to feel confident in his abilities. My husband and I are both adept in learning through written and spoken words, which made it confusing for us when our child could not follow instructions or sit still. His body could physically do things before his brain could catch up! This experience led me to research learning styles and alternative education so that I could facilitate an environment for him to flourish.

Homeschooling 25 years ago was not as generally accepted as it is today and resources were slim, but I had a committed heart, an inquiring mind and the homeschooler’s key to the kingdom: a library card! Homeschooling was a life-changing path that led me to believe I was competent and committed to making my child’s learning environment conducive to his needs. I truly was his best advocate.

It was of utmost importance to me to make learning joyful, imaginative, engaging and useful. Chores with songs and games were big in the early days. My first child was highly tactical, and baking, art and physical play helped concepts come alive for him. My second child loved reading together, making up stories and talking about experiences and concepts. My third is an observer and an independent soul. Discussions are short and to the point; he prefers to think out of the box and find the most effective way to attain objectives. Math, reading and language lessons have looked vastly different in the curriculum I presented to each child.

One of my favorite ways to incorporate many learning points together was cooking. Maybe your child doesn’t think they are concerned with why, when and where the Pythagorean theorem was created, but by using hands-on projects to study ancient Greece, your child will be more curious. Baking cookies into geometric shapes is much more fun than using store-bought manipulatives!

Homeschooling is not the school choice for every family, but I would encourage every family to be open to what learning looks like in the 21st century. Gone are the days of traditional employment models. We have opportunities globally due to the explosion in new technology. Teach children that they need to think entrepreneurially, that they have unique minds and that it is for them to bring their talents and find their niche in the world. More than likely the career your child finds in the future doesn’t even exist today!

Whatever your school choice, I want to leave you with a few tips for supporting your child’s learning. First, children’s curiosity and joy for play is the key to all learning. Don’t focus on comparison or grade level expectations. Each wonderfully created little one has their own speed of progress. Second, learning is not limited to sitting at a desk! Have your child help with shopping lists, or estimating costs and reading tags in stores. Read stories from your phone in waiting rooms. Listen to audiobooks in the car and discuss. Invite kids to help with chores and reward them with a special movie night.

Today, there are so many resources available to cherish and engage each child’s unique gifts — don’t be afraid to use them. You’ll be amazed at the joy it brings when your child discovers their talents and gifts.

* Faren Motz is a parent on Maui as well as a small business owner of Happy Trail Rides and Peace Love Shaka. She is an administrator for Maui Homeschool Friends and a representative for Maui County on the Hawaii Homeschool Network.

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