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We should teach the way they learn

Did you know that there are seven different learning styles? These include: visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary. With nearly 200 students at MTA, you might think that we couldn't teach every child according to their learning style, but you would be wrong. In addition to the seven different learning styles, did you know that we teach students across three different developmental stages? We teach students who are in the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood stages of life. For those of you who don't know, Miss McClellan has her Bachelor of Science in Education from The Ohio State University and taught elementary school in Westerville for three years prior to opening the taekwondo school. As a teacher, you are taught to observe and determine how each student learns best and adapt your teaching to ensure that every child's learning style is met.

Taekwondo and martial arts in general are usually taught verbally, physically, and socially. The instructor verbalizes the technique they are doing while they demonstrate the technique with their body usually with a small group of students or the entire class. However, that leaves four other learning styles that are not being reached. If every martial arts school only taught to these three learning styles, there are several children, and adults, who would never grasp the material.On any given day and during any given class, I can point out which style each student learns best with and that is why we strive to meet all seven learning styles every single class.

When we teach a form, you may hear us explain that the students need to turn towards the heavy bags and then turn towards the mirrors. For those students who learn visually, we are helping them to create a mental map of where they are in the school and which directions they need to turn according to where they are. Have you ever noticed that we usually teach with music playing quietly through the speaker? This helps those students who learn aurally. While we are teaching forms, we explain the reasoning behind each move. I mean, why would we do a palm heel upset?! By doing this, we are helping those students who learn logically. While most of our instruction is done socially, we do offer private lessons for students who learn best solitarily and will occasionally pull them one-on-one when we have enough leadership to assist with class.

Ignacio Estrada said it best when he said "if a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn."

When we notice that a student is not grasping the material through verbal, physical, and social styles of learning, we will adapt our teaching style to best fit each student. What you don't notice is the slight difference that is being made for each student in the class. If you have had the chance to observe a Little Ninja class and a Kids class, you will have seen that we teach and operate these classes completely differently. Why? The biggest reason is that they are at different stages of development in life, but another main reason is that we are teaching these students the way they learn.

The little ninjas are not required to memorize their form and one-step for the sheer fact that they are not at the appropriate developmental milestone for that. Young children learn best through play and that is why you will see our little ninja class involve a lot of silly actions and movements that are helping the students to learn their form. We have our leadership team spread out for those students they learn more solitarily and we do everything whole group for those students who learn best socially. Sometimes we may do the form at a normal speaking level, while other times we may do it shouting each move or without talking at all. This helps those students who learn best aurally as well as verbally. For the little ninja students who learn best visually, we give them picture cue cards as to what activity is going to happen first, second, third, etc.

As you sit in the lobby and wonder why we are doing some of the silly things we are doing, there is always a reason behind it. (For example, did you know that dodgeball in the little ninja class helps them develop their social skills and a the goofy sayings for how to teach the first two moves in green belt will get them to remember how to do that move?) Usually, students will not be able to identify their learning style until they are around ten-years old, but parents and teachers will be able to identify it. Next time you are watching class, see if you can identify your child's learning style or if you can see how we adapt our teaching to meet everyone's needs because sometimes, we just have to "teach the way they learn."

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