Saturday, November 19, 2011

Preschool play and learning styles.

So...I am not an expert on children's learning styles nor have I done an in depth study on this topic.  I did study learning styles a bit when I was earning a degree in elementary education, but only a surface level study.  However, I have noticed an interesting correlation between the way that my own children play in their preschool years and how they later learn.  So, here it goes...

When my oldest Nathan was a toddler, we bought all of the traditional preschool roll play, drama, and pretend toys that I knew to be enriching  He would occasionally dress up but he was more interested in just being outside and studying the world around him.  He was very inquisitive and asked tons of could just see the wheels turning in his head as he was deep in thought.  Here is a picture of him at 3 1/2 listening to Abby's heart...not playing doctor...haha.

Eighteen months behind him came his younger brother Brennan.  Brennan was the exact opposite.  He was full of energy, ran almost before he walked (and really hasn't stopped since...haha), and spent almost every waking hour (and some sleeping hours as well) in one costume or another.  One day he would be a fire fighter or police man and then the next he would be Spiderman or Superman.

There were even days when he did his "school" in costume:)

I was marveling (no pun intended) over the difference between the two one day when it hit me that the difference was in who they were in their imagination.  When Nathan played, much of his play was in 3rd person.  The action was always happening over there and he was the creator and spectator of the imaginary world around him.

 When Brennan played, however, much of his play was in 1st person.  He was right in the midst of the action and it was happening to him.  I found this to be a really intriguing difference.

As we added more little ones to our family, I watched to see if each of them would fit into one category or the other.  So far, each of them has...for the most part.  Abby was the next little one in our house and she played mostly in 1st person just like Brennan.

She lived in princess dresses and anything that was frilly and sparkled but she wasn't above being a little pirate every now and then:)

Being just 22 months apart and playing in much the same way, Brennan and Abby, would play house together for hours but Nathan usually would have none of this type of play...usually:)

Then we had our little Wesley.  He has played more in 3rd person just like Nathan.  When he does put on a costume he will be quick to tell you that he isn't a jedi or Davy Crockett, but Wesley in a costume.  I don't think that Brennan and Abby went by their rightful names for half of their preschool years:)
But, Nathan and Wesley are more of the literal type.  The two of them just really seem to understand each other.  They are buddied up for chores, etc. because they work well together.

Next to come along was Seth.  Oh boy is he ever a 1st person player!  He is a little Star Wars jedi much of the time.  He runs around in costumes, with swords, and light-sabers and rarely slows down!

 Can't you just see the adventure in those eyes?

Now that we are into the school years, there seems to be a correlation (at least among my own kids) between how they played as preschoolers and how they learn best as elementary students.  Those who played mostly in 1st person are more tactile learners, need that "hands on" approach to learning and struggle sitting still and concentrating.  Those who played more 3rd person as preschoolers are more visual/auditory learners and sit still and concentrate well.

This realization has helped me plan better for each one of them in their school lessons and also as I train them to sit still during church.  Those tactile learners really need to have their hands busy to sit still.  There is so much energy inside of them and it needs somewhere to go!  So, if their hands are busy, they can better sit still and their minds are more open to learning.

So, as I start to think about Wesley beginning school, I am preparing for an auditory/visual learner.  Even now, while the other kids are doing school, he likes to sit and do puzzles, look at books etc..  Seth on the other hand would prefer to run circles around the house, super hero cape flying in the wind and Nerf sword in hand:)  Guess I will gear up for another tactile learner after Wesley.  It will be interesting to see how Ransom develops over the next few years.

Have you noticed any of these same preschool play-learning style connections in your kids or the kids in your life?

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic!!!
    Can you give this little lecture to public AND private school teachers. I've tried to explain to them the fact that my son does NOT need a psychiatrist, much less medication. He is a tactile learner it is a mental challenge for him to sit still and quiet. We have come up with things for him to do, like following along with his finger on the page, tapping his foot or pencil. It has been a long challenging road, but we are getting there.
    They complain about his behavior, yet he makes all A's and B's hmmm...