Understanding learning style
Everybody is born ready to learn. Years of research have shown that just about every person has a preferred style in which they learn best. A student might learn through a combination of styles, but usually there is one learning style he or she favors over the others. For example:
- You may be able to spell by visualizing a word, but your child may not be able to memorize his spelling words unless he writes them down first.
- Your child's incessant pencil tapping may actually help her stay on task.
There is no right or wrong learning style. Your primary learning style may be different from your child's. To work effectively with your child, you need to understand both your own learning style and that of your child. When you identify how your child learns best, you can help your child have more positive learning experiences.
What are common learning styles?
The three most common learning styles are Visual, Auditory, and Physical (Kinesthetic). These styles, how you recognize them, and how you can help people with these styles learn are described in the table below.
|The Learning Style||How you recognize the style||How you can help|
|Visual learners learn by watching.
They use images to remember, creating a picture in their
heads. To learn spelling, for example, they may picture
the way a word looks.
Visual learners may also:
|A visual learner:
||You can help visual learners by:
|Auditory learners benefit from
traditional teaching techniques. They learn well when
directions are read aloud or information is presented
and requested verbally. They remember facts when
presented in a poem, song or melody.
Auditory learners also like:
An auditory learner:
|You can help auditory learners by:
|Physical learners learn best through
movement and physical manipulation. They like to find
out how things work and want to touch, feel and
experience what they are being asked to learn. Most
kindergartners are physical learners, but by second or
third grade their learning styles may change to visual
or auditory. However, half of all students in high
school and beyond remain physical learners.
Physical learners may also:
A physical learner:
|You can help physical learners by:
How does understanding learning style help my child?
If a subject in school is not taught using your child's preferred learning style, he or she may struggle to understand it. You can help your child grasp difficult material by practicing at home using your child's best learning style.
You may also be able to talk with your child's teacher about how your child learns best. This can help both your own and other children in the class. In the past, most instruction was delivered verbally (although only about 10 percent of secondary school students are auditory learners).
Many teachers are now aware of the need to deliver instruction in ways that accommodate all learning styles. Understanding your child's learning style also helps you:
- Keep expectations realistic.
- Help your child at home.
- Become an advocate for your child at school.
- Teach your child coping skills for situations that are not geared to his or her learning style.
- Prevent your child from feeling frustrated when he or she is not doing work that is up to his or her potential.
- Experiment with different learning styles and environments to improve your child's accomplishments and feelings of achievement.
It is important to avoid negative labels for learners. All children are born ready to learn.