Thursday, August 8, 2013

Working With Your Child’s Learning Styles

learning styles

One way to help your child learn more efficiently is to identify his or her preferred learning modalities. I found it very helpful to identify whether my children were stronger in visual, auditory, kinesthetic skills.

Visual Learners learn best through sight. They often learn to read easily and can remember what they read and what they see. These children do well in traditional school settings because they are able to learn easily from books.

Auditory learners learn best from hearing. They may especially enjoy music and can learn information quickly from songs. They enjoy being read to or having things explained to them.

Kinesthetic learners learn best when they are doing. Building models, doing experiments, actually handling something related to the learning topic is most helpful to them. Interestingly, even when kinesthetic learners are in a situation when they need to listen, they retain information better if their hands are busy—coloring, playing with clay, etc.

Children often fall into more than one category. In each of my children, I was able to see a primary and a secondary learning style. And of course, they were all different!

So, once you have identified your child’s learning style, what should you do with that information? First, where you can, restructure your curriculum to fit the way your child learns best, especially with difficult subjects. If your child is struggling with a concept, try presenting the information in a different way. To teach parts of speech, instead of doing a worksheet page, the child might learn a song that will help him memorize or he might collect 20 “nouns” and act out 20 “verbs.” Instead of you explaining something to him, have him make lists or flashcards or drawings to illustrate it.

Another thought to consider---you may want to try to strengthen your children’s weaker areas. My son was visual and kinesthetic when he was very young. But we did so much reading aloud that he really became stronger in this area. And regardless of your child’s preferred learning style, retention will be better if the subject is presented in more than one way.

I think we all try to teach in the way we, ourselves, learn best. (I know that I’d be happy to just sit and read because I learn most easily that way.) But if we watch our children carefully, and are willing to alter our teaching techniques, learning will be more efficient and less frustrating for everyone!

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