Have you ever spent lots of time making out a shopping list only to leave it lying on the kitchen counter? Then, by some small miracle, you remembered every single item on the list? Surprisingly, it’s no miraculous act! You are reflecting your specific learning style; you are likely a visual learner.
Or, maybe you just read that scenario and thought, “No way could I remember what was on that list!” No worries, that doesn’t mean your memory is failing, just that you likely have a different learning style. Just like we aren’t all the same when it comes to learning and understanding, our children have various learning styles as well!
Three Main Learning Styles
While most children (and adults) can use all three styles to learn, every individual has one of these specific learning styles heightened. It is important to recognize a child’s primary learning style to enhance your child’s educational experiences and make maximum academic gains.
Auditory learners learn best by speaking and listening. Kids who have an auditory learning style are typically very verbal. These are our kiddos who walk through the store reading every sign and price tag out loud. Doing so helps them remember! Even hearing oneself speak is helpful to auditory learners. Listening to lectures, hearing stories read aloud, having directions spoken out loud, and having materials produced verbally are all techniques that offer maximum benefits to these children.
Strategies and Resources Beneficial to Auditory Learners
- Materials presented in lecture form.
- Recording speeches or lectures to play back later
- Reviewing facts, spelling words, or vocabulary terms by speaking out loud.
- Reading materials out loud to self
- Putting information to music
- Stating lists out loud.
- Listening to books on tape or read-aloud apps
Tactile learners learn best through touching, feeling, moving, and doing. Sometimes, not always, these kids are the wiggle worms! They typically need to keep their hands busy or their body moving most of the time. Their need to be in motion and touch things does not necessarily mean that they’re not paying attention!
Those whose primary learning style is tactile understand information best when they’re fully involved in what they’re doing. This style of learning is prevalent in younger children but can also be seen in those who are older. Statistics show that boys, specifically, tend to carry a tactile learning style throughout their entire life.
Strategies and Resources Beneficial to Tactile Learners
- Write important words or math facts in sand, sugar, or shaving cream for a tactile experience
- Write words or facts on index cards and place around a room. Hop from card to card while defining words or solving facts written on each card
- Take frequent movement breaks between tasks. For example, solve three math problems, then do ten jumping jacks
- Act out words or events in a story with motions that will assist in recalling information
- Use experiments and projects to aid in learning instead of memorization or paper-based work
- Use hands-on manipulatives for math, such as counters, dominoes, cards, an abacus, etc.
- Have stress balls, fidget spinners, and fidget cubes on hand to squeeze, click or spin.
- Alternative seating options, such as exercise balls, provide movement opportunities during instruction
Those with a visual learning style value seeing precisely what they need to do. These types of learners are typically the kids who can be told fifty times to do something, yet still not complete the requested task. I’m sure you’ve caught yourself saying, “I’ve asked you over and over!” when it comes to cleaning a bedroom, completing homework, or other similar tasks. Auditory learning is not necessarily a strong suit for visual learners!
Visual learners benefit from reading information, directions, and lists. Graphs, charts, diagrams, and images are helpful to visual learners. While seeing and reading information is essential to understanding for visual learners, writing is equally as important. Make note that many activities that have a positive impact on visual learners can also be effective for those who have a tactile learning style.
Strategies and Resources Beneficial to Visual Learners
- Use graphics such as photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and charts to heighten understanding.
- Use graphic organizers to aid in brainstorming
- Flashcards offer a visual of words, definitions, facts, etc.
- Rewrite important information
- Provide copies of notes or information instead of merely providing it aloud
- Have checklists and rubrics handy
- Planners and organizational tools/systems keep kids organized
- Plan for plenty of time and materials to take in-depth notes
Why is it important to identify your child’s learning style?
There are many significant reasons to understand which learning style pertains to your child. At home, this can make all the difference in how your mornings, bedtime routine, homework completion, and chores go! Asking your son or daughter to complete a task repeatedly with no results can quickly escalate into a vicious circle of yelling and tears. When, in all reality, maybe your child is a visual learner and needs to see things written out on a chore chart. Perhaps you even have a tactile learner who needs to have projects broken up into manageable portions with movement breaks in between!
In the classroom, whether that’s at home or in a school setting, recognizing a child’s learning style can make or break their education experience! As parents, it’s your job to advocate for your child and his or her learning style. Teachers are typically very tuned in to their students and strive to provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of each child. It is not uncommon, however, for concerns to arise when students don’t seem to be understanding the materials presented. As informed parents, this is where you can step in and make suggestions that you’ve found to be helpful at home. If you’re both parent and teacher to your child, be sure to reflect on his or her learning style to plan and implement lessons.
Learning styles are as unique as each child. If parents understand and embrace how children learn, they can maximize overall potential!