Monday, August 19, 2013

Learning Styles ~ A Guest Post

  Turning the blog over today to a good friend I was luck enough to go high school with thanks to her dad being stationed in the area but she was California loyal and headed west for college.  Luckily thanks to social media we have been able to keep in touch.  And so here is Jen to tell you about her exciting new project:

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Why I Wrote A Parent’s Playbook for Learning

Joy and I have been friends since high school w-a-y too many years ago and our lives—though now being lived on opposite coasts—have always been intertwined in interesting ways. We were both born in New England, met our husbands many years before we married them, share the exact same wedding anniversary, have extremely outgoing eldest daughters, and next-born reserved, cuddle buddy sons. I’m so glad that our lives intertwined yet again when she offered to host a stop on my virtual book tour.

A Parent’s Playbook for Learning is all about how personality type shapes the ways in which kids prefer to learn. It’s not just my perspectives on the topic, but brings together research from almost 100 different reference texts in the realms of brain-based learning, pedagogy, and psychology. I tried to write it in a way that it was easy for parents without educational background to use, because it’s my personal perspective that all parents need to at the very least consider themselves semi-homeschoolers and bridge any gaps for our kids between what’s been taught and what they have understood during school hours. Unfortunately, personality type is not what immediately comes to mind with respect to learning for most of us—including teachers and tutors—which is why I felt it was so important to write the book.

My first inkling that it was important to key into my eldest’s temperament came not in the context of learning but of parenting. I had joined a mommy-and-me group when she was about six weeks old and, as the kids grew and developed, it became very apparent that different strategies were proving “most effective” for the kids…whether we were talking about sleep training, potty training, organization, or discipline. When our kids hit about 3 years old, we started enrolling them in enrichment activities together. It was interesting to watch how some of the kids we knew would really gravitate toward teachers and activities that Lana did not…and vice versa. The subjects themselves didn’t seem to matter as much as the teaching approach did. Lana had music classes she couldn’t wait to get to and others she wasn’t as jazzed about. The same thing happened with both swimming and yoga, as well.
When it came to traditional schoolwork, though, I didn’t think I had to worry. I always excelled in school as a kid and finished my B.A. with honors at 19. I’d even done my undergrad thesis on multiple intelligences and learning, so I thought I was set. But when I started trying to prepare Lana for Kindergarten, I hit a stumbling block. When I tried to teach her in the ways that I most enjoyed learning when I was a kid, she wasn’t enthused. So I started doing more research on how kids learned and when I began to use personality type strategies with her, she started to become more enthusiastic about learning. I was out in the yard one day around that time when it hit me. Watching your kids grow and bloom is a little like tending to a garden.

Just like different types of plants thrive in dry Southern California than those that do in moister Pennsylvania, we need to make sure we’re giving our human seedlings the best environments in which to thrive—whether that means full sun or shade; moist or well-drained soil; hot or cold temperatures; etc. One seedling is not any better than another, but a succulent is going to need very different love and care than a gardenia. When my extraverted daughter is doing her homework, I need to let her think out loud to really cement new learning because that’s what she needs to thrive. My son’s personality dictates that, while he has excellent time management skills, he needs extra support when things don’t go as planned. My daughter likes to soak in new concepts from the “forest” level first while my son prefers to begin with the “leaves on the trees” and zoom out to the forest level. In order to help them not only thrive in school but allow their love of learning to blossom, I need to make sure that I do everything I can to create the ideal learning climate for them…both at home and by helping “prepare the soil” in the classroom with their teachers by clueing them into my kids’ personalities as early as possible in the school year.

The next time you find yourself at odds with your child over homework or test prep, take a step back and ask yourself if you are creating the best type of learning environment for your child. There’s no one right to grow all children, just like there’s no one right way to grow all plants.
“All things wise and wonderful—the Lord God made them all.”

Jen Lilienstein is the Founder of and author of the award-winning book, A Parent’s Playbook for Learning, which can be purchased in paperback or ebook formats on,, iTunes, and in bookstores nationwide.

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