After piling colored monkeys in front of my six year old, I bent down and gently instructed him to count and sort.

Meanwhile, I sat on the couch and reviewed a history lesson with his older brother. Once I got to the third review question, my son couldn’t remember the answer. Before I could even open my mouth to help him along, I saw a tiny head peek around the side of the piano and give the correct answer, word for word. My oldest son and I glanced at each other trying not to laugh. I then asked the next question and motioned to my older son not to answer. Sure enough, my six year old spouted out the answer, with ease.

I realized at this moment that he had been listening in the whole time. For weeks. When my older son and I had been reading history, he had been paying attention. For all I knew, he was simply playing, little did I know that the stories we had been reading captured his attention.

I had already figured out that my six year old learned differently than his older brother.

His older brother was a quick learner, no matter what subject you threw at him. He excelled in math, read three grade levels above his own and, and never had to be told twice a rule in grammar. When it came to learning, he just seemed to “get” it.

When I noticed that my six year old wasn’t catching on as quickly, I immediately assessed that he needed more games, more counters, more flash cards and manipulatives to help him along. I was determined that my six year old son was a kinesthetic (hands-on) learner. I knew that he needed a different approach and because he was so energetic and all over the place, I assumed that “hands-on,” was the best for him.

I was wrong.

After the “peeking around the piano” incident I started to take a different approach with my younger son, and it was freeing. I now know that he loves to learn through story, especially when snuggled on the couch next to mom. He remembers history and science facts if read to him in story form and quality time that goes with it is an added perk.

Now that I know he is an auditory learner, I have been able to address his math struggles. I tried the hands-on methods in the past to try help him, to no avail. Frustration, tears, and confusion were the norm. Now, when introducing a new math skill, I’ll search for a song that he can listen to that teaches him this concept. He picks up on it immediately and feels such confidence in gaining a new skill that he thrives to show it off to his dad once he learns it.

Taking a new approach in his learning methods have taken away the stress and reestablished the joy of learning in his little heart!