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What is Your Child’s Learning Style?
I remember watching math word problems as a kid and not feeling like any of it made any sense. My father, who was good at math, couldn’t understand why he didn’t know. So I would secretly draw pictures of the problem and “see, I got it!” I later learned that I am a visual learner and that I need to “see” the problem to understand it.
Some children talk. In order to process information, these students like to discuss it with others. After hearing the words, they understand and tend to remember the information. We call them audio learners.
Another group learns while being active and playing. If they can manipulate objects with their hands, they are able to understand the concept and it is embedded in their long-term memory.
There are many ways in which professionals classify different learning styles and the procedure can be complex. However, the most widely used system divides all learning styles into three basic categories: visual learners, auditory learners and kinesthetic learners.
Why do we need to know our child’s learning style?
When we realize that there are differences in the way children learn, we will not try to force them to learn the way we do. Think homework would be easier if parents could help, using the techniques that best suit their child. If my dad had known I was a visual learner, he could have taught me how to draw the problem or make a visual chart to help me understand. I would have felt that drawing pictures was an accepted method of learning rather than being secret.
Children often feel guilty if they cannot understand a problem when it is explained verbally. The child who needs hands-on activities is frustrated and cannot sit still during long dissertations. Their behavior is then characterized as unacceptable and a different learning style becomes a discipline issue. Kinesthetic learners have difficulty adapting to our expectations.
Think of the difference it could make if you informed the teacher about your child’s learning style at the beginning of the year. Many teachers do not have time to analyze each child’s style. They usually teach according to their own particular learning style.
Children who have learned to recognize and understand their own learning styles are most likely to succeed. They can use techniques that work specifically for them. I know a kid who had struggled all through school. Eventually she got to college and found herself overwhelmed with college instructors who required copious note-taking. This was not his learning style. I needed to hear the information over and over again. He realized this and used a tape recorder to play back the information while repeating much of it out loud. As an audio learner, this was his successful learning method.
Children may use a mix of learning styles or be dominant in one. A child with different learning styles is usually a more flexible learner. Read the characteristics of each learning style. See if you can recognize your child’s style from the descriptions below
Characteristics of visual learners (65% of the population):
- Learn through pictures
- He likes art and drawing
- Read maps, charts and diagrams well
- He likes mazes and puzzles
- Use lists or charts to organize your thoughts
- It is able to detect recurring patterns in information
- Remember where information is located on a page
- See images or words in the “mind’s eye”
- It is able to visualize stories
- Often a good speller (they can see the word in their mind)
- He has a vivid imagination
- Becomes impatient or withdrawn when extensive listening is required
- Color is important and helps memory
- He likes to put things together
- He usually enjoys reading/writing more than math/science
- Fond of doodling
- He likes to trace words and pictures
- Often accused of being a dreamer in class
How can I help my Visual Learner?
Because mathematics is abstract, it is important to draw a picture or explain with diagrams.
Encourage and teach your child to draw pictures to understand math problems. Visual children are usually very creative and are able to find a good memory technique to remember vocabulary or mathematical procedures. They just need to know that it is an acceptable method.
When reading, suggest visual clues. Offer illustrated books of all kinds; When reading chapter books together, encourage visualizing the story and scenes at intervals. Provide colored pens for note taking or writing. Suggest writing the syllables of new spelling or vocabulary words in different colors. Help them make lists or outlines of information. He suggests drawing a picture of the historical information to be remembered.
Characteristics of auditory learners (30% of the population):
- Tends to remember and repeat ideas that are presented verbally
- Learn well through lectures
- He is an excellent listener
- He is often the leader of a group discussion
- Can reproduce symbols, letters or words by listening to them
- He likes to talk
- Enjoy the plays, movies
- Can learn concepts by listening to tapes
- Enjoy the music
- Enjoy the question/answer sessions
- Retains information that is configured by rhyme
- He finds small group discussions stimulating and informative
- The information must be heard spoken aloud
How can I help my audio learner?
These children learn best through verbal conferences, discussions, talking about things and listening to what others have to say. Talk to your child about homework and have them explain it to you. This reinforces learning. Audio learners often benefit from reading the text aloud and using a tape recorder.
Read math problems together and break a word problem into smaller segments. Discuss what it means and talk about possible solutions. Why would this work or not? The audio learner needs this kind of dialogue.
In each subject you have to listen to your child read the information aloud and then comment on it. This may seem time-consuming for parents, but it is the best way for the audio learner to be successful. Also, it builds a closer relationship. Audio learners do not work well on their own.
Audio learners absorb information like a sponge. They can listen to a stimulating educational video and remember most of the information, especially if there is a discussion afterwards. If there is information that needs to be memorized, put it to rhyme or music. Make it fun!
Characteristics of kinesthetic learners (5% of the population):
- Learn by doing, direct involvement
- He often moves or finds reasons to move
- Is not very attentive to visual or auditory presentations
- He wants to “do” something
- try things
- He likes to manipulate objects
- Gestures when speaking
- He is often a bad listener
- Respond to music through physical movement
- He likes clapping with rhymes
- Use hand movements when sounding out words
- Often finds success in physical response activities
Kinesthetic/tactile children learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them. Touching things, trying them, and moving their bodies are ways that kinesthetic children learn. They may find it difficult to sit still for long periods and are often distracted by their need for activity and exploration. These students have high energy levels. They think and learn best while moving. They often miss much of what is said during a lecture and have trouble concentrating when asked to sit and read. These students prefer to do, rather than watch or listen. It is often diagnosed as ADHD
How can I help my kinesthetic/tactile learner?
These students need many objects to work with and manipulate. Physical objects are essential, especially for math. There are many practical materials available in educational stores and many teachers are happy to lend some of their teaching materials to parents. For example, if you are helping your child tell the time, take an old clock and let him move the hands while you explain the idea.
Reading, spelling and writing are often challenging for these children. Buy letters and have your child spell words using something they can touch and feel. Sometimes using the computer is beneficial as they are moving the keys. Computer math games work well too.
Clap syllables while reading words helps kinesthetic learners sound out the word phonetically. If they forget punctuation at the end of a sentence, suggest hand signals such as a clenched fist for a period, an outstretched arm for an exclamation point, and a curved hand with outstretched arm for a question mark. By using the body, information is internalized.
Use games to reinforce learning. To add and subtract, play dominoes or card games. Write unknown words on small cards and play “Go fish” or “Concentration” to help you read.
Benefits for all children
Knowing your child’s learning style is important! When you can help your child in a way that they can respond positively, you are setting a good tone for learning. Self-esteem increases. Your child is much happier because he feels accepted for who he is. They don’t have to learn like someone else. They have special abilities. They are unique!
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