Homework is a fact of life for the school-age child and is often met with groans and protest. Often, however, it is simply that they feel confined and restrained by the usual cookie cutter style of at-home learning. Turn homework and learning into a fun part of their afternoon by finding creative solutions particular to their dominant sense, says Pricilla Dunstan, a behavioral researcher.
Taste and smell children will want to please both you and their teachers. They will probably need some time spent with them connecting before they are able to sit down and concentrate. To make learning more relevant to them, try to explain things in a way that is associated to family and friends. Answering the “why do I have to do my homework” questions with a story about their favorite uncle tackling the same problem will make them feel connected and on a mission. Be careful not to compare taste and smell children, as they are very sensitive to competition and may give up all together if they think they are not good at something.
Auditory children learn through sound. Having a teacher who verbally explains things helps a lot, but even if they are required to learn via textbooks, they can still shine. Have them take notes then read those notes onto a tape and listen to it back. Try and find songs or recording of things they need to learn. This is easily done on the Internet, where everything from your ABCs to the Gettysburg Address is in audio form. When it’s time for your child to be creative, you will probably find them listening to their iPod or with some sort of background noise. This is them taking care of their auditory world so they can be free to concentrate on the task at hand.
Visual children tend to have the upper hand in our educational system and they find it easy to remember the facts they read. You may find, however, they can be fussy about where they do their homework and how it is done. Allow them the freedom to tidy up before they sit down, and be patient when each assignment needs to be redone because it doesn’t look neat enough. When learning things by heart, flash cards and picture reminders work wonders, and making charts that are colorful and visually exciting creates memory associations that help them retain the information more easily.
Tactile children need to move. After sitting still in class, they will need to have a period of time to just run around and play before being able to concentrate on completing their homework. These children will tend to fidget. They are not being naughty, it’s just they need to move in order to assimilate information or recall details. This need for movement is important especially when things need to be memorized. For example, when learning their alphabet or multiplication tables, try throwing a ball back and forth as you say them, you will find they will retain the information much better and will actually have fun doing so.
Homework is never easy, and each child tackles it in his or her own special way, but by using the senses we are able to fine tune our tactics to be more relevant to what each child needs and get through it faster and more effectively.
Priscilla Dunstan is the creator of the Dunstan Baby Language and author of “Child Sense” and “Calm the Crying.” www.dunstanbabynewyork.com.