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Learning Styles, Cars, and “Tantennas”

“Mommy, yesterday I was doing school all day!”

That really wasn’t the case. In fact, he couldn’t have been sitting at the school table for more than a couple hours total (and that was due to focusing issues), but in the mind of a little boy, it has been “all day”.Boy studying

I explained that to him, and assured him that if he set his mind to it, he could accomplish his goals quickly. I also attempted (quite valiantly, I believe) to make his school as fun as possible.

Things went well and he was done before the morning was over, giving us the afternoon for projects and play.

It was Wednesday, and he was looking forward to learning how cars work, with daddy, later that afternoon.

As they played in the yard, my husband opened the hood and called him over. He explained different parts of the engine and their function. After each explanation, Allen would say, “Oh!” enthusiastically.

He finished explaining about the engine, closed the hood, and started doing something else, when Allen bounded up to him.

“Can you teach me more about cars?”

What started as a simple lesson ended up being a long and detailed explanation of every visible or partly visible part of the car.

That evening, I asked him what he had learned about cars. He started naming one part after another.  When he mentioned the “tantenna,” I first helped him with his pronunciation if it, and then asked if he knew what it was for.

“Listening to music,” he replied.

I explained to him that if I played music from my phone hooked up to the car speakers (as I often do), we wouldn’t need the antenna, and that the antenna is used when the music comes through the radio.

His next question was, “How does the music get into the antenna?” This prompted another extensive explanation—conducted in turn by myself and my husband—about radio waves and electromagnetic fields, about energy and discoveries.

Again, a number of wholehearted “Oh!”s showed his interest at the discussion and subject matter.

Every child has a different learning style (or styles). Every parent and teacher also has a different style (or styles) of teaching. Sometimes it is a challenge when you discover something isn’t working. Maybe you are discovering that your teaching styles are not all that similar to the learning styles of your child (or student). When you are the primary educator, that can present a fair challenge, to make times of learning fun and educational for both of you.

It often helps to find others who are available to take up certain aspects of learning, and be open to new methods of education, such as searching online and letting them learning something via youtube (that you have checked over first to make sure it’s okay), or asking a friend or relative if they can teach them some skill over the summer or during weekends. There is almost no limit to new and unique ways that a child can learn something; it just might take a bit of research or thinking outside the box, but it’s worth it.

I realize that my son won’t always ask me, as he did his father, “Can you teach me more?” but I can still do everything I can to help his times of education be interesting and interactive, and make every moment a learning experience.


(Image by © S. Seckinger/zefa/Corbis)


Is It Too Much?

One thing I didn’t thoroughly consider when starting a family was my desire for peace and solitude—not all the time, but every once in a while is a nice thing.

Usually I’m fine with the conversation and playful prattle. Even the occasional argument isn’t that hard to handle when nipped in the bud.Three kids on a swing

But every now and again I have one of those days, the days where you wonder, “is it too much to ask?” for just a few moments of silence? For the chance to cook dinner without having to run out to answer the holler of, “mommy, he bit me”, and then a moment later submit to being “base” while they are playing hide and seek in the house. For the chance to sit down without my sons seeing it as an opportunity to jump on me and play rough and tumble?

We were now in the backyard. My daughter led her brothers on a campaign to find the ants beneath the rocks; of course, like any good general, sending them ahead and shouting instructions from a safe distance.

I surveyed the scene and saw the opportunity for a moment of silence. I tiptoed around the blossoming plants to the swing and there I sat, listening to a song on my phone.

“Come. Sit. Swing. Sit.”

Oops, apprehended by the troops. My youngest had noticed me and wanted to swing too. I sat him up next to me, and he held my phone and listened to the music with me.

My daughter ran up and sat down too. She held my hand while the youngest cuddled in my lap.

Allen decided to take down the clothes that were hanging.

One song passed, and another… and still it was quiet, peaceful. I realized that I don’t have to be alone to find peace, and truly, nothing can bring a better sense of love and completion than a cuddle from a child.