How to understand learning styles and give the right support to your child as a result
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.