Understanding Learning Styles

learning styles





Ever wonder why one of your kids can recite spelling words orally while another needs to write them down?

It’s because we humans use different senses to process information - better known as learning styles.

Understanding and honoring how your child learns can make a big difference, at school and at home. A learning style refers to how a person best processes and comprehends information. A child’s learning style also affects listening skills, comprehension, homework, and studying skills. Showing your kids how to tap their strengths as a learner is a skill they’ll keep for a lifetime.

Three primary types of learning styles  – visual-spatial, auditory-language, and kinesthetic-physical – are widely recognized based on the original research by David Kolb. Most children (and adults) learn in a combination of ways but lean toward one type. See if you can recognize your child in one or more of these learning styles.

    Visual-Spatial Learners remember best through what they see. They visualize words as images and learn best through pictures – creating an image or watching a video. They tend to like charts, diagrams, maps and puzzles. Visual learners prefer to write things down and watch rather than talk or act in class. The can be well–organized and tend to like reading. They usually notice details. They may lose patience when oral explanations go on too long. learningThey are sometimes accused of daydreaming in class as they visualize what they are hearing or thinking. Telling a young visual learner we’re leaving in 10 minutes will not be processed as well as showing them on the clock that when the big hand gets on the 6 we are leaving.

Visual learners study best by flashcards, creating pictures in their mind, writing out questions and answers, and making lists. They will usually need to write out spelling words when tested.

    Auditory-Language Learners process best through what they hear. They think in words and sounds and prefer to verbalize ideas. They still need to hear things more than once but are more apt to retain what they hear by repeating it to themselves. They’re more likely to remember jokes and have an excellent memory for dates, names, faces and trivia. Auditory learners usually like word games and prefer to listen to books while reading auditory kidalong. They can be heard talking to themselves, humming or whispering while they read. They participate in class discussions and often find noise distracting because they are processing it all.
Auditory learners like to be quizzed on spelling words orally. But it’s also a good idea to give them a written pre-test so they can adjust to writing down the words on class tests. Let them know it’s ok to whisper the letters aloud as they write. They enjoy hearing facts and words in a rhythmic song or acronym so they can process it better.

    Kinesthetic  – Physical Learners learn best by what they do and experience. They like to move around and are not able to sit still for long. They tend to lose interest if they’re not actively involved in doing something physical. They like to touch, feel, and use their hands to process information and learn best through experiential, hands on activities. Kinesthetic learners often need physical stimulation like chewing gum, rocking or walking around. They are sometimes labeled ADHD (even when they’re not) and tend to be naturally athletic. Kinesthetic learners prefer books with action and may find the act of writing notes helpful during a lesson because it keeps them physically busy.kinesthetic

They are more likely to get through homework with fewer battles if it’s broken up into chunks. Maybe 10-15 minutes before soccer practice and then another 10-15 minutes after. This may not be ideal for a parent who wants it done before the next activity, but it taps a child’s learning style.

Remember, most children (and adults) learn in a combination of ways but lean toward one style. If you’re having trouble identifying your child’s approach to learning, take this quiz with your child. Once you fully understand how your child learns, share this information with their teachers – especially if you sense the teacher and your child are not connecting. Share examples you’ve used that help you connect with your child. You can do this on the forms that the school sends out, in a note, or face to face.

An effective teacher will teach using a combination of styles. Keep in mind it’s important for kids to be able to adapt to other styles of learning and processing. As they get older, their learning styles will also begin to evolve.

Now that you’ve got your kids figured out, what’s your style of learning?