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Different Learning Styles in Education (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 28, 2013

Kinesthetic Learning Style

People with the kinesthetic learning style learn best by doing: moving around and handling physical objects. They like to explore the outdoors, are often very coordinated, may excel in athletics and performing arts, and usually express their feelings physically, such as with hugging and hitting. They prefer trying new skills for themselves rather than being given directions or shown a demonstration.

They may find it hard to sit still for long periods of time and struggle with reading and spelling. They are often considered “difficult” and misdiagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). In recent years, more educators have accepted that they simply learn differently and have urged educators to consider more kinesthetic learning activities.

These teaching tips can help you get the most out of kinesthetic learners:

  • Give breaks frequently.
  • Let the child try something first before you give detailed instructions.
  • Provide plenty of hands-on learning tools, such as crayons, blocks, puzzles, maps, modeling clay, science experiments, an abacus, and a geoboard (a square board with pegs used to teach shapes and geometric concepts).
  • Don’t limit the study space to the usual desk. Allow the child to study while moving around, lying on the floor, or slouching in a couch.
  • Use the outdoors for learning opportunities.
  • Teach educational concepts through games and projects.
  • Assign presentations in which children demonstrate concepts or skills.
  • Encourage physical movement while studying. For example, quiz the child while taking a walk around the block.
  • Find a school with mandatory physical education. Kinesthetic learners suffer most from the recent cutting of P.E. in many schools.

Read/Write Learning Style

The read/write learning style was added to Fleming’s model after the initial three. Read/write learners specifically learn best through the written word. They absorb information by reading books and handouts, taking lots of notes (sometimes word-for-word), and making lists. They prefer lectures, diagrams, pictures, charts, and scientific concepts to be explained using written language. They are often fast readers and skillful writers.

Similar to visual learners, read/write learners may struggle with verbal directions and are easily distracted by noise. Some may be quiet and struggle to detect body language and other social cues.

Here are some ways to help read/write learners succeed:

  • Encourage the child to write plenty of notes, rewrite them in her own words, and study from them.
  • Provide thorough, well-organized written material, and write key points in full sentences on the board during lectures.
  • Assign plenty of writing exercises.
  • Explain diagrams, graphs, or any mathematical data using language.
  • Set up a quiet study area with as few distractions as possible.
  • Provide a dictionary, thesaurus, and other resource material.
  • Allow the child to answer multiple-choice questions.

The Complexities of Learning Styles

Many other models for learning styles exist, most notably David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model and Learning Style Inventory, which are used to categorize adults more so than children.

Whichever model of learning styles is used, psychologists agree that almost no one falls neatly into only one learning style. People may be categorized into one, but their various traits can apply to others—or they may have a secondary learning style that works for them significantly better than another. For example, a student may be primarily a visual learner, have some skills for auditory learning, and have no skill for learning kinesthetically.

Additionally, some psychologists have proposed that all children are primarily kinesthetic learners until second or third grade, only developing other learning styles when their education becomes more rigorous.

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