What Does it Mean to be an Interpersonal Learner?

David and Interpersonal LearningRecently I sat down with a family looking for some writing help for their 5th grader. We soon started to talk about how he was responding to his reading assignments as well. *David‘s mom shared that he had a hard time containing himself. After every few paragraphs of reading, David would shout out across the kitchen, eager to share all of the exciting things he just read. His teacher was concerned that David’s enthusiasm was difficult to contain in class. He was blurting out his thoughts without raising his hand, so they were “working on” it.

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I had to giggle a little. David is a classic example of an Interpersonal Learner. He’s social, personable, charming, obviously intelligent, and wants to express his joy to those around him. This fabulous 5th grader will find outlets for his learning style in high school & college study groups, chatting with a friend about the day’s lesson, and “sharing” what he has learned (and what he wants to remember) with his teachers during lunch.

Yes, blurting out in class can be disruptive, but David will always need a way to process his learning by talking it out with someone. What can he do for now?

  1. Set aside a time with a parent to talk about what he learned that day
  2. Actually practice speaking to himself (with no one around) out loud, so he can hear his thoughts in the air. This is especially beneficial if you get up and pace while reciting information.
  3. Use flashcards with siblings, friends, or parents.
  4. Write down the things that he’s learning on sticky notes and slap them directly on the page he’s studying — ready to be shared with someone at a more “appropriate time.”
  5. Teach the material he’s learning to someone else.

David is actually quite blessed. His personality and learning type lends itself well to success in the “real world,” since his ability to relate to others and sensitivity to classmates and colleagues will lead to cooperation and teamwork. He’s a “people person”!

If you’d like to develop your own Interpersonal Learning skills (it doesn’t come naturally to all of us), you might try:

  • Joining a service-oriented group as a volunteer (one where you’re actively working with others, but with a shared focus)
  • Plan out “keeping in touch” with people you already know on your calendar. For example – how about writing a short note to a different friend each week? (I use SendOutCards for this and love it)
  • Participate in professional development, workshops, or seminars in subjects you find interesting – and start with one on communication/interpersonal skills!
  • Spend 10-15 minutes a day in “active listening mode” with a spouse, sibling or children
  • Offer to tutor other people in a subject where you have expertise

Our student, David, shouldn’t be told to stop talking about his learning (quite the opposite!), but as a 5th grader he’s learning the how and when of appropriate sharing. Our Learning Style is both a gift and a challenge, and can be leveraged for lifelong learning AND success!

To take a short pop quiz to determine your strengths (kinesthetic, auditory or verbal), take the quiz at http://bit.ly/LearningStyleQuiz.

Pacific Learning Academy is a one-on-one high school offering single courses and dual enrollment, as well as full-time high school. We also offer tutoring in all subjects from 6th to 12th grade, including SAT/ACT Diagnostic testing and prep, either in homes or local libraries across the Eastside (Issaquah, Sammamish, etc…). See more at www.PacificLearningAcademy.com.

*Names of students and parents have been changed

January 14, 2013

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