The beautiful thing about human beings is that we’re all different. It’s not just physical and personality differences that set us apart though, our differences even come down to the way we’re able to learn things. Maybe you’ve already noticed that while one of your kids loves studying with background music, the other might prefer silence when learning. It’s known that there’s no such thing as an effective one-size-fits-all approach to learning – everybody is different and has their own ways of learning. If you’ve realised that your child might be struggling to stay still during lessons, or has trouble maintaining attention and retaining information, they may be learning in a style that’s not suitable for them.
Scientists have boiled down children’s learning styles to three distinct types – auditory, kinesthetic, and visual. In this article we’ll explain each of the three learning types, and how to identify which is the most suitable for your child. A simple change in the way you present information to your child could make a huge difference in their ability to learn!
The 3 different learning styles
Knowing the three different learning styles and being able to identify which is most suitable for your child can help you deal with arguments and frustration come homework time, while also encouraging you to develop more effective study methods for them.
That said, the three learning styles extend beyond childhood and can also benefit university and high school students, as well as you yourself. Understanding your preferred method of learning will help shape your teaching style, making you a more effective instructor for your kids. As we mentioned earlier, all human beings are different and while these three styles are the most common, most people find it most effective to use a combination of them. However, there’s usually a clear preference for one learning style over the others.
So let’s have a look at them in more detail!
- Just like it sounds, auditory learners prefer to take in information through listening and talking over reading,
- Children with auditory styles of learning might like to study by reciting information out loud, listening to explanations from someone else, using audiobooks, and so on,
- While some auditory learners love background music, others might find background noises distracting,
- Auditory learners might have trouble retaining written information from a textbook, and prefer group discussions over studying independently,
- Don’t be offended if your child is not looking at you while you’re talking, or think that they are not paying attention, as they’re still taking in information by listening.
- Visual learners take in new information best through reading, looking at images, or watching live demonstrations and lessons,
- The visual learning style is believed to be the most popular, and most schools are organised around this style of learning (think, slideshows, blackboards, powerpoint presentations, etc.)
- Children who prefer visual learning styles might get distracted by simply listening to someone speak, and will need something to look at to keep their focus,
- Visual learners like to keep notes while listening, or to write down instructions rather than listen to them,
- Children who take in information visually might struggle with retaining instructions and information that’s simply been told to them and not physically demonstrated.
- Kinesthetic learn better through touching and performing actions themselves,
- Children with kinesthetic learning styles might have trouble sitting still during lessons or fidget a lot, and prefer to learn through practical activities and hands-on exercises. Often, these children are misdiagnosed with ADHD or considered disruptive as they can’t sit still during lessons, but that’s simply because the auditory and visual styles of learning do not work for them,
- Kinesthetic learners are more interactive and like to be a part of the process rather than watching it from the sidelines,
- Kids with kinesthetic learning styles love to touch objects while learning about them, and perform roleplays.
The 4th style: Logical/analytical learners
Yes, we said there were only three learning styles, however some experts argue the presence of a fourth style of logical or analytical learning. If you feel as though you or your child don’t quite fit into the descriptions above, then you may be a part of the 4th learning group!
- Analytical/logical learners like to explore patterns and understand how different concepts relate to each other,
- They love to know how things work rather than simply being given an overall answer,
- Children with logical/analytical styles of learning tend to ask a lot of questions in order to figure out how things interrelate for themselves,
- You might find that logical/analytical learners may have a good grasp of logical thinking, mathematics, and strategy from a young age.
How to identify your child’s style of learning
So now you know the three (or four) learning styles, you might already have an idea of which is the most preferable for you and your child. However, it’s not always that obvious! There are several online quizzes you can take to easily help you determine your child’s learning style, but we’ll also list a few personality traits of each learning style that might help make things a little more clear.
- Have a strong imagination,
- Are interested in art, drawing, crafts, etc.,
- Have a strong, visual memory,
- Tend to have a good sense of direction,
- Easily remember people’s faces, locations, and so on.
- Tend to be quite musical,
- Enjoy singing, creating their own songs,
- Able to easily remember phrases and words that have been spoken to them,
- Are quite well versed for a young age,
- Easily retain and carry out verbal instructions,
- Enjoy having conversations and discussions.
- Generally good at physical activity such as sports, dance, etc.,
- Quite restless and tend to fidget during class,
- Enjoy hands-on activities and role playing,
- Usually begin walking, sitting, or crawling early in life,
- Tend to enjoy written exercises or drawing.
Now what? We won’t just leave you with all this information without giving you a bit of advice on how to make lessons and homework time more effective for your child! Whether you’ve found them to be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners, here are some tips for next time you sit down to do a bit of homework. Try them out and see if you can notice a difference in how your child takes in information!
- Use flash cards, tables, maps, and charts while teaching,
- Try to introduce fun activities like drawing where appropriate,
- Have your child write down notes as they learn, and then review them later,
- If your child has to read from a textbook, have them highlight or underline important phrases to keep them stimulated,
- Introduce colour coding, labelling, and other fun visual techniques.
- Use audiobooks and podcasts where appropriate,
- Have your child read out loud rather than silently,
- Try to create songs or tunes out of phrases that your child needs to memorises,
- Use word association to help with memory.
- Have your child use their finger to track the words as they read,
- Try to take frequent breaks or introduce hands-on activities like role plays,
- Have them underline or highlight passages while reading,
- If you’re reciting something, have your kids take down notes at the same time to help them retain the information.