Know Your Child’s Learning Style and Your Own!

2011_0528 Taylor's Scout Project (21)Are you a visual learner? Auditory? Tactile-kinesthetic? Did you know the curriculum you choose and your teaching style is often a reflection of your preferred learning style? If the children you teach are struggling with the curriculum you have chosen or don’t seem to be catching on to what you are teaching, they may have a different learning style.

Whether you are a teacher, a parent, and/or a homeschooler, knowing the preferred learning style of the children you teach AND YOUR OWN learning style will help you know how to best reach and teach your children. The three learning styles are VISUAL, AUDITORY, AND TACTILE-KINESTHETIC. Most people learn best through a combination of the three. The more senses you can involve in the learning process, the more you are likely to learn. It is also important to use all three; use it or lose it. However, knowing your children’s primary learning style will help them thrive and enjoy learning.

When my kids were younger, I used to hear from the other end of the house, “Mom, I don’t know how to answer this question. ‘If Chris has $5 and Cheryl has $10 and they want to buy ice cream for all their friends and ice cream cones are 32 cents and the sky is blue and they don’t know what the exchange rate is for yen, how many friends do they have?’

DSCF2088Well, at least that is what the problem sounded like to me. I am a VISUAL learner and asking me to process a question like that without seeing it is likely to cause my head to explode. Over and over they would do this, risking the fate of their poor mother! Then one day, I was talking about learning styles with Emily and we determined she was a visual learner. After we talked a little while about what that meant, I told her I was a visual learner too and that was why I needed them to show me their math when they needed help. The light went on! Woohoo! And my brain was saved (at least from the dangers of word problems).

Which brings up a good point. It is important not only for you to know everyone’s learning style, but talk with your children about learning styles as well. Knowing their preferred learning style can open a whole new world for them. For example, if often asked to sit still, this can be discouraging and they may feel they are bad students. If they understand they are tactile-kinesthetic, then you can help them develop strategies for times when they are supposed to be sitting.

So, what are the three learning styles?

Visual learners prefer to see to learn. They like to read, watch a demonstration or a movie, and learn with charts, graphs, and pictures. They may have difficulty taking notes from a lecture. They may appear to not be paying attention because looking straight at the person who is teaching is distracting to them.

Auditory learners prefer to hear to learn. They like to be read to, they prefer lectures or audio recordings over reading. They may need to recite lists out loud or have music on in the background. They may have difficulty taking tests.

Tactile-kinesthetic learners need to touch and move. Their best mode of learning is hands-on. They like to experiment, take things apart and (hopefully) put them back together. They often have difficulty sitting still in class.

Even with these brief descriptions, can you identify the children you know? Yourself? Use this quick inventory to determine the learning styles of you and the children you teach. There are only 24 questions so don’t put it off! Learning Style Inventory

There is SO much more to know about each type of learner. Here are several links related to testing for and understanding learning styles.
Awesome and fun video on learning styles starring Rain Man, Kung Fu Panda, and My Fair Lady.
Another fun video on learning styles, superheroes and villains included!
The 3 Basic Learning Styles: How Do You Learn Best?
Understanding Learning Styles
Helpful Tips for Studying
Homework Help
12 Ways to Teach Visual Learners

Want more ideas on how to help your learners?
Google the words: how to help visual learners
Google the words: how to help auditory learners
Google the words: how to help tactile-kinesthetic learners

Please feel free to post your learning style in the comments below. If you need or have suggestions for curriculum or teaching ideas for a particular learning style, post that as well!

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