Handcrafting a Secular Homeschool Curriculum for a Balanced Learner
Secular homeschoolers are planners. Have you ever thought about the process you use when doing this planning? Do you think about the subjects you will have your child focus on and what secular homeschool curriculum or online programs you will use? What about how you are going to help your child learn how to learn? Do you plan the specific learning strategies you will deploy to help your child become a lifelong learner?
Raising Lifelong Learners
Homeschooling parents often say that they want to raise lifelong learners. That is a worthy goal, but as your child’s primary teacher and mentor, how can you help make that happen? One thing you can do to help your child fall in love with learning is to make plans to help them become a more balanced learner. Balanced learners can learn from a wide range of materials that are presented in a variety of ways.
Most people access information at a higher level when it is presented in a way that supports one to two of the primary learning modalities (modes): visual, aural (auditory), reading and writing, or kinesthetic learning. For each individual, this is a natural outcome of how their brain works. As a long-term strategy for secular homeschoolers, it is best to become a balanced learner who can access information across all of the learning modalities.
What Is a Balanced Learner?
Balanced learners are multimodal learners. As the word suggests, multimodal learners learn using all four modalities. Instead of a heavy reliance on one or two modes, there is a balance with the strategies they use. Balanced learners are strong enough using each of the four modalities to choose the one best suited to the learning task at hand.
Being a lifelong learner is difficult if you rely heavily on only one or two of the learning modes because you can’t always control how information is presented and taught. As a balanced learner with command over all of the learning modes, you will be able to use the strategy that works best based on how the information is presented.
A Metacognitive Approach
Metacognition is the ability of a student to understand how they learn best, and it should be applied in your secular homeschool curriculum. With a metacognitive approach, students use prior knowledge to organize, monitor, and adapt the way they approach new learning material and situations. Another benefit of working with students to learn how they learn is that it directly strengthens a student’s metacognitive abilities. When there is a focus on learning how to learn in order to become a balanced learner, students come to see the different learning modalities as useful tools. Balanced learners can pick and choose the best tool based on the information and how it is presented. Interested in learning more about metacognition? Read our blog on the topic.
Using Strengths to Handcraft a More Balance Learner
All this theory sounds great, but are you wondering how to handcraft a more balanced learner? The good news is, it is easier than you might think (based on the dense theory😊).
1. The first step is to identify the learning modalities primarily used by the learner.
2. Make a list of the academic disciplines the student finds challenging, and those that they don’t find challenging.
3. Pair Strengths with Challenges – Use this information to help you choose secular homeschool materials and programs:
- If a student finds a subject challenging, find materials that primarily present the information in a mode that is a strength for them. They are already working hard enough to learn the information.
- Pair the learning modes that are not as strong with subjects that fall within a student’s academic strengths. You can work on creating a more balanced learner by pairing materials that have a multimodal approach (use all four modalities) with a student’s “easy” subjects. You can also use present materials using a mode that is not a student’s strength.
Learning modes are important tools, and the ability to use each is a skill that should be developed in your secular homeschool. Like any tool and skill, the more practice you get with them, the better you will be using them. By thoughtfully pairing academic strengths with modalities that need work, you can handcraft a more balanced learner. This will have lifelong benefits, as your multimodal learner will be able to pick and choose the optimum learning tool to match the presentation of information in any educational scenario.
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