I’m endlessly fascinated by the vast contrasts between my two children. They are both good-natured, witty, energetic, and usually kind to one another. However, their learning styles are becoming increasingly different. We tried using flash cards with my older daughter when my wife and I began teaching the multiplication tables. We soon discovered that our bright eyed girl wasn’t into rote memorization. She’s got to use her hands to learn stuff. She’s very tactile. So, we found a Math program that caters to her style of learning (Math U See is the name — not everyone is in love with this system, but it’s been working for us.)
Anyway, after the “multiplication flash card fiasco” we put the notecards away. I assumed that our youngest girl would want to learn the same way — hands on, tactile games, building blocks, marbles, and anything else a kid could grab. Well, the younger one does enjoy manipulatives, but it’s not the only way she learns.
Two weeks ago, we began learning the capitals of the world — starting with Europe. She wasn’t really memorizing very much just by spinning the globe or flipping through her atlas. However, once we started showing her flash cards, her brain shifted into high gear.
I’m sitting at my computer right now. My little six year old is in the other room. I’m going to call out to her right now. “What’s the capital of Latvia?”
“Riga,” she replies.
“What’s the capital of Estonia?”
“Tallinn!” Uh-oh. That last answer was supplied by my nine year old! They’ve developed a friendly competition. And, although it’s harder for my older kid to remember dates and facts, her little sister’s knack for flash cards had made her (and the rest of us) reconsider this old fashioned method of memorization.