Discovering Your Child's Preferred Learning Style

— America's Career Resource Network
Updated on Jan 13, 2009

What are Learning Styles?

Every child is born ready to learn. Yet children (and adults) generally have a preferred style in which they learn best. A child 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 or her spelling words unless he or she writes them down first.
  • Your child's incessant pencil tapping may actually help her or him 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 your child's.

When you identify how your child learns best, you can help your child have more positive learning experiences.

The Most Common Learning Styles

The three most common learning styles are:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Physical (Kinesthetic)

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:

  • Enjoy art and drawing
  • Read maps, charts and diagrams well
  • Like mazes and puzzles

Teaching methods for visual learners include:

  • Making flash cards for key information
  • Drawing symbols or pictures
  • Visually highlighting key words and pictures
  • Making charts to organize information
  • Translating words and ideas into symbols, pictures and diagrams
  • Using to-do lists, assignment logs and written notes (also benefits physical learners)

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:

  • To tell stories and jokes
  • To play word games
  • To use tape recorders

Teaching methods for auditory learners include:

  • Reading out loud together
  • Encouraging them to read out loud when they study, so they can "hear" the instruction
  • Studying with a partner, so they can talk out the solutions to problems
  • Writing out a sequence of steps to solve a problem, then reading the steps out loud

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 kindergarteners 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:

  • Need to manipulate, handle and try things out
  • Have a short attention span
  • Need to be moving to learn
  • Show you things rather than telling you about them

Teaching methods for physical learners include:

  • Letting them participate in science or math laboratories
  • Creating and participating in dramatic productions
  • Going on field trips
  • Creating and performing skits and dances
  • Encouraging them to take notes and draw diagrams
  • Having them make models.
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