Homeschooling: Determining Each Child's Learning Style

This article explains how to tailor your homeschool program to match your students' individual personalities.


Homeschooling: Determining Each Child's Learning Style

One of the great things about us humans is that each of us has a unique personality. One of the hard things about educating humans is that each person has a unique personality; a person's personality has a huge impact on how that person learns most effectively.

One of the best things about homeschooling is that you can tailor your homeschool program to match the individual personalities of your students. This is quite a contrast to an institutional school in which everyone in a class is taught with exactly the same methods and materials. For the kids who happen to be best taught with the institutional approach, this is fine. For those who would learn better in a different way, well, they just have to do the best they can.

Before you open your school for learning, you should take some time to understand each of your student's basic personality traits so that you can choose the kind of materials and teaching methods you should use to reach her most effectively.


The information in this section is based on the Myers-Briggs personality typing system in which I am a firm believer. This system is amazingly useful to both understand our own personality type and to understand the personalities of people with whom we interact. There are many sources of detailed information about Myers-Briggs personality types. One of my favorites is the book Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates.

When dealing with personality types and preferences, people naturally think of their own types as "good" and other types as "less good." However, the purpose of personality types is not to judge or grade specific individuals, but to understand ourselves and other people better so that we can relate to one another more effectively. Or in this case, to be able to understand and teach people, namely your children, more effectively.

Understanding the Basic Types of Personality That Impact Learning Styles
Explaining the complexities of personality types and learning styles would require a book of its own; in this brief section, I can only provide a very basic level of information on this somewhat complex topic. The good news is that you don't need to understand all the complexities involved to be able to adjust your homeschool program to the specific personality types of your children. That's because peoples' personalities can be well categorized by four general personality-type scales. When you understand where your child's personality fits on each of these scales, you will be well equipped to tailor your teaching materials and methods to that child's personality.

In the Myers-Briggs scheme, there are four basic elements of personality preferences. Each of these preferences is measured on a scale that has two "sides." Knowing where a person's tendency resides on each of these scales determines the person's overall personality type.

More on Personality Preferences
Notice I use the word "preference" when talking about personality types. That's because each of us has a behavior preference that is driven by our personality type. However, because we humans are so flexible and adaptable, we sometimes don't act in accordance with our own personality preferences. For example, someone who has a strong preference for introversion might realize that participating in a large social event is important for some reason and do so even though it wouldn't be tops on their list of fun things to do.

In some cases, such as institutional schools, people are taught that there are "good" and "bad" ways of learning or behaving to get rewarded. If the "good" way goes against a person's personality preferences, that person will sometimes learn to mimic the expected behavior in order to get the desired reward. Because of this, you can accurately assess someone's personality types based on one or two actions. You need to be able to either observe a person over a long period of time or use a personality test to accurately understand an individual's preferences.