Scientist have defined around eight distinct approaches to learning. Many of us can identify the kids in our groups that fall into some of those categories. It’s very easy to spot a verbal learner who likes to lead discussion and chatter a bit; a physical learner who can’t quite sit in his chair; or a visual learner who loves to draw and always chooses the brightest crayons in the box. Some other approaches are a bit harder to identify. You might struggle to identify the kid who is a natural learner and enjoys natural environments to learning. You might not be able to peg the logical learner in your group, but after a few well placed puzzle games you will know who they are too. Reflective learners might be easy to spot, though sometimes we mistake their style of learning for apathy or rudeness. Here are four quick ways to possibly identify the reflective learners in your group.
- Reflective learners may appear to be disinterested. A lot of times a reflective learner by nature is reflecting on what you are teaching and saying. As leaders it is sometimes very easy for us to dismiss this behavior as disinterest and wonder if the child is even paying attention to any of the words that you are saying. I assure you, if you have a reflective learner, she heard every word you said and is pondering quite well.
- Reflective learners may not answer you right away when you ask a question. If you engage a reflective learner in conversation you may need to be patient and wait for an answer. Reflective learners want to make sure the answer they give you is the correct answer so they do an evaluation processes before giving you an answer. If you have a reflective learner include him in discussions but give him time to formulate an answer without pressuring him for an answer.
- Reflective learners like to journal. If you have a child in your group that likes to write or journal and usually chooses a writing activity when given choices chances are she might be a reflective learner. Journals are great ways to engage reflective learners and they will thrive in that endeavor. They might even be willing to share their journals with others. If you have a reflective learner make sure you provide choices that include some type of reflective activity to give them time to journal their thoughts.
- Reflective learners will ask you questions when you aren’t expecting them. Sometimes these kids will ask you questions weeks after a discussion because they have had time to process. One year the group of sixth grade boys I taught had a young man who would come prepared the next session to ask questions based on what he processed from the week before. If you have a kid who likes to ask question about prior content you’ve taught, you might have a reflective learner. Give time to answer those questions and maybe begin your session each week by asking if anyone had any thoughts from the last time you were together.
If you have reflective learners in your group take some time to identify who they are and give them an opportunity to be who God made them to be.
Tim Pollard teaches 3rd graders at Tulip Grove Baptist Church. He’s passionate about helping kids dig deep into Scripture, which he pursues through his daily work as leader of the Explore the Bible: Kids team. Tim lives with his wife and daughters in Mount Juliet, TN.