Learning Styles in Small Groups, Pt. 2

Jennifer Stow is currently living in central China with her husband and 11-year-old daughter. She knows just enough Mandarin to order dumplings or catch a cab! Before moving to China, she and her family have lived in Dallas, San Diego, and then just north of Atlanta. Jennifer holds a Masters Degree in Education, has taught a variety of things from Kindergarten in Texas to College in China, and is always looking for ways to engage students in a meaningful discussion. In addition to teaching, Jennifer has also been a Preschool Director and Curriculum Coordinator at a church and currently consults for the 252 Basics team at Orange. She hates yes/no questions, loves new school supplies, and is a curriculum junkie!

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I love pens and notebooks. I enjoy keeping a journal and I am a chronic list maker. I process life through reading and writing words.

 

Every once in a while someone will give me a new pen and notebook for a gift. When this happens, I feel valued. Not so much that they gave me a gift. But because they took the time to get to know me, to understand who I am, how I am created.

 

If we are honest, isn’t this what we all want? For someone to really see us?

 

SGLs understand this. One way SGLs can easily show each kid they value his or her uniqueness is to incorporate learning styles into strategy that speak the individual language of each kid in the group.

 

The ideas below are general and practical, and most can be used simultaneously alongside the activities in 252 Basics, starting this very week.

 

Visual Learners: Let them highlight the memory verse. Allow them to doodle while you are talking or explaining an activity. Let them illustrate the memory verse or part of the Bible story.

 

Auditory Learners: Let them TALK! They process when they talk. They may like to record themselves saying the memory verse. Let them repeat the directions for the group. They are very likely to be the ones who will talk about what they just learned in small group! Awesome! So at the end of an activity, let them sum up what you just did.

 

Read/Write Learners: These kids can write the words on the board or tear sheet when the group is brainstorming ideas. Everyone hangs their head when you ask for a volunteer to read the Bible story or memory verse? Let your read/write kid go for it! Encourage these kids to keep a journal! Send them notes and cards in the mail.

 

Kinesthetic Learners: They need hands-on, more active experiences. Let them create motions to the verse. Have them stand up to answer “yes” and sit down to answer “no.” Let them pass out the supplies. When you need someone to go grab something out of the supply closet, send your kinesthetic kid(s). These kids will really enjoy discussing application questions!

 

Assign, or even let kids choose, roles for each kid when they are doing a project in groups of 3 or 4: WRITER, SPEAKER, DESIGNER, ACTOR. For example, if the activity is to create a poster to tell about Paul’s missionary journey: The DESIGNER draws the map, the WRITER writes the captions, the SPEAKER tells the larger group about the poster, and the ACTOR can role play something that Paul may have done on the journey.

 

This leaves Solitary and Social Learners. Social learners feel right at home in groups of people. But be aware of your solitary Learners. They certainly will still benefit from being in small group. Just allow them to process alone from time to time. Have everyone close their eyes and think silently before answering. Give everyone 1 minute to find a quiet place in the room to think of an idea and then come back to share with the group.

 

Your leaders may be ready to start thinking through ways to implement these strategies but wonder, who is who? Ask the kids! Give them options! “So who wants to use this fun new fluorescent highlighter to highlight their memory verse?” “Is there anyone who wants to use their phone to record themselves practicing their verse?” “Who can stand up and tell us what we talked about today in small group?” Kids will naturally fall into their unique learning style.

 

Every kid is uniquely created in God’s image. This includes their learning styles. In addition to the kids in your ministry, perhaps these ideas will even help you discover how your SGLs like to learn and can help you shape your next training for them.

 

The organization and framework of learning styles are adapted from the Vark® modalities of learning, ©Copyright Version 7.1 (2011) held by Neil D. Fleming, Christchurch, New Zealand.

To learn more about learning styles and to take a questionnaire to find out which learning styles fit you best, head to http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/

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