After making the decision to homeschool, one of the most overwhelming choices parents face is choosing a curriculum. Knowing how your child learns can be instrumental in successfully choosing a course of study. Even parents who are paying close attention to their children over the years may wonder “How does my teen learn?” This discovery becomes even more important during the teen years, because high school can set the tone for a future lifestyle of learning. Every parent knows that children learn in many different ways – even those in the same family. But uncovering your teen’s learning style doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds.

Please note: If you are starting to homeschool after your children have spent many years in school outside your home, it may take a while to figure out how they learn best because time in a public or private school can turn anyone into a “workbook” learner.

I suggest you approach this as an exciting adventure, and in the end, you and your teen will reap rewards!

But rushing into a curriculum purchase willy-nilly is a sure-fire recipe for disappointment and frustration. 

So sit back, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, take a deep breath, and read on before you buy that first book! (But don’t panic if you’ve already spent some money – there’s always used book sales.)

Here’s how to determine your teen’s learning style

  • Take a few weeks just watching them. Yes, I said weeks! This is a process, and the more information you collect, the clearer you will be on how to move ahead. Provide educational books (fiction and non-fiction), games, models, kits, software, etc (only limited and supervised internet surfing allowed!) and see what they gravitate towards. What do they choose to do when they have free time? What toys do they like to play with? Take good notes ~ you will not remember, trust me.
  • Look at your notes and see how their choices fit into the following categories. While there are many ways to assess learning styles, this particular way is based on personality characteristics or temperament. I find it easier to use these distinctions, as they take into account how a person behaves and responds in situations outside of the school environment as well:

Four types of learning styles

Why it's important to know your child's learning style

The Active Learner: sometimes known as the “strong-willed” child; likes hands-on activities, manipulatives, construction-type toys; most young children are in this category

The Routine Learner: best-suited toward traditional curricula; likes worksheet/workbooks and completing tasks

The Specific Learner: needs to be challenged and uses hands-on activities to deepen his understanding of concepts; well suited for learning under a mentor

The Global Learner: loves working and learning in a group; likes to read and learn about ideas in context.

And Seven More Styles of Learning…

For those of you who love to dig deeper, hop on over to, for a more detailed description of 7 distinct styles of learning:

  • Visual/spatial
  • Aural/auditory-musical
  • Verbal/linguistic
  • Physical/kinesthetic
  • Logical/mathematical
  • Social/interpersonal
  • Solitary/intrapersonal

Making learning styles work for you

While the information there may help you, I understand that it may also overwhelm you!  Bear in mind a few things:

–> Many of us may display different styles of learning in different situations, or even combinations of some of these styles. Look for generalities and patterns.

–> The point here is not so much as coming up with a “label” as it is to get to know your child better and how best to help them learn. Approach this process with love and an open mind.

–> Whatever you do, please don’t develop a legalistic mindset!  And don’t get discouraged trying to determine your child’s style. Have fun, and perhaps work at determining your own and/or your spouse’s learning styles.  This can actually become a family-bonding activity if approached with the right mindset.

Now what do I do?

After reviewing all this info, start a Word document and write a summary for yourself. You may want to keep this on hand to update as your child grows and changes (some characteristics may overlap even in the same individual). I think it’s such an important concept to keep in mind that I even have a page in my homeschool planner where you can keep your notes. (It’ll be very helpful when making curriculum choices each year!)

  • Some catalog companies, such as ROCK SolidTimberdoodle, and HomeSchoolingBooks also offer assistance in choosing or evaluating curriculum choices. It’s worth the effort to take the time and understand your child’s learning style. Time spent now will pave the way for positive and productive schooling in the future.
  • Jena Names developed this tool as a result of her own frustrations when she began homeschooling her daughter.  After completing the evaluation, she also provides further assistance if you still feel you need it.  Learn more about this Learning Styles Profile, which takes only 30 minutes to complete. Then use the results to create a custom homeschool curriculum to meet your child’s needs!
  • While 16Personalities doesn’t deal with learning styles per se, this fun personality test does give insight into career possibilities for each personality type. Once you’re dealing with teens in high school, this is something you also want to consider as you work through curriculum and course choices. Remember: you’re setting them up for their adult lives and how they will approach their future learning opportunities. Hey, we all have them, no matter what job or career we have!
  • Feeling overwhelmed with this all! Don’t be – there’s support right around the corner. Sign up for my FREE newsletter and continued encouragement and inspiration throughout your years of homeschooling high school!

Have you determined your child’s learning style yet?  Do you have any words of encouragement or tips that might help others in this area? Please feel free to share in the comments below 🙂

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