U is for Understanding
While it's important that the small people understand what I'm trying to teach, it's far more important that I understand my children. I have 5 children, which equals 5 different learning styles and needs. In order for us to have a successful day/year, it is vitally important that I understand what each of them needs.
I have 2 who are extremely independent perfectionists. They do not like to be wrong, but they also don't want to be taught. They like to figure things out on their own. Unfortunately, sometimes when you're trying to learn something new, you're going to make mistakes. I've had to learn how to encourage them to be independent, allowing them to learn from their mistakes while balancing their perfectionism. (I'm going to be honest and tell you that I'm still trying to figure out how to balance this.)
I have 1 who loves to read and hates to write. The loving to read is extremely helpful; she reads science and history books for fun and absorbs facts like a sponge. We discovered a few weeks ago that her eyesight is not the same for both eyes, and writing causes her to have headaches, especially if she's trying to copy from one place to another. I'm hoping that once we go to the eye doctor next week, this situation will have a remedy. Until then, I'm content to allow her to do more drawing than writing for her notebooking activities, and I happily take dictation for her during writing activities.
I have 1 who is struggling to read. Any reading activity for her requires the rest of the house to be silent - not an easy task when there are 6 people in the house during school. Understanding what she needs means that I have to try to provide the very best atmosphere for her by scheduling her reading time while the others are working quietly.
I have 1 who wants my (or someone's) attention all the time. She was so excited to start school this year. Somehow, though, she got the idea that her starting school meant that ALL of my day would be spent working with her, and the others would just have to do their own thing. Now that we've established that I will spend time with her, but that I also need to teach the others, I've had to find ways to include her in the rest of the day when I'm not working with her one-on-one. I do this by scheduling time for the oldest three to work with her using her activity bags. When she isn't working with them, she is learning to sit beside me working on puzzles, coloring, or doing a quiet activity. This helps her with her desire to be near me, while allowing me to be able to still teach the others.
Because I teach them at home, I can use my understanding of their personalities to teach them in a way that will best allow them to learn. I've had 11, 8, 6, and almost 4 years of getting to know them to help me understand what they need. This gives me an advantage over a classroom teacher who might have only met them 2 weeks ago if they went to one of our local schools.