An early appreciation of your child’s preferential learning style can help you to encourage them to learn when you are working with them at home. It is also important to be aware of your own style since it might conflict with that of your child.
Have a look at the four learning styles below and first try to identify your own learning style. Remember it is possible to fit into a mixture of learning styles. Once you have done this, assess your child’s style.
You can then evaluate how your child varies from you and how you can then use your strengths, yours and theirs, in a complementary way to help them learn at home?
Psychologists have categorised learning styles in a number of ways, but here are four as a start point.
1. Visual learner
Needs and likes to visualise things, see them written down on paper
Learns through seeing images – can remember the pictures on a page
Enjoys art and drawing
Reads maps, charts and diagrams with competence
Shows interest in machines and inventions and how things work
Likes to play with Lego and other construction toys, and likes to complete jigsaw puzzles.
Can sometimes be a daydreamer in class.
Ways to encourage this ‘visual learner’ type of thinking:
Use board games and memory games to create visual patterns
Suggest visual clues when reading together – let your child ‘paint’ their own mind pictures as they read the story
Use picture books of all types for reading, even as they get older
Encourage visualisation of a story and reinforce this at intervals
Encourage writing through using different colours of writing
Teach ‘mind mapping’ techniques to older children, to help them learn and recall complex information
Show videos of plays, films etc. to reinforce the stories they are studying.
2. Kinaesthetic learner
Processes knowledge through physical sensations
Highly active, not able to sit in one place for long
Communicates using body language and gestures
Shows you rather than tells you
Wants to touch and feel the world around them
May be good at mimicking others
Enjoys sports or other activities where they can keep moving.
To encourage this ‘kinaesthetic learner’ type of thinking:
Movement helps these children to focus – allow them to move around every so often while studying
Chewing gum, being able to doodle or fiddle with something like beads can help them concentrate
Use hands-on activities and experiments, art projects, nature walks or acting out stories, so they ‘feel’ the activities
Avoid things they don’t like – long range planning, complicated projects, paper & pencil tasks, workbooks.
3. Auditory learner
Thinks in words and verbalises concepts
Spells words accurately and easily, as they can hear the different sounds – so tends to learn phonetically rather than through ‘look and say’ techniques.
Can be a good reader, though some prefer the spoken word
Has excellent memory for names, dates and trivia
Likes word games
Enjoys using tape recorders and often musically talented
Usually able to learn their times tables with relative ease.
To encourage this ‘auditory learner’ type of thinking:
Encourage them to create their own word problems
Get them to dictate a story to you and watch while you write or type it out
Read aloud together and record the session for later playback
Buy or borrow books that are on CD
For older children, record information so they can listen to it back, perhaps on their iPod!
4. Logical learner
Thinks conceptually, likes to explore patterns and relationships
Enjoys puzzles and seeing how things work
Constantly questions and wonders
Likes routine and consistency
Capable of highly abstract forms of logical thinking at early age
Does mental arithmetic easily
Enjoys strategy games, computers and doing experiments. Likes an end goal to aim for
Likes to build things with blocks/Lego
Not so competent when it comes to the more ‘creative’ side.
To encourage this ‘logical learner’ type of thinking:
Do science experiments together and get them to record the results.
Use computer learning games and word puzzles.
Introduce non-fiction and rhyming books.