What Is Your Child’s Learning Style?
By Nancy Da Silva
No two children are alike. From their personalities to their likes and dislikes, even though their sense of self is still developing and their personalities aren’t fully formed, they are truly individual. Even kids in the same family can be so vastly different it’s surprising their related at all.
Now take all these individual kids and stick them in a classroom with one teacher and one set curriculum. Is it any wonder some kid’s have trouble learning? This is because their varied personalities also lend themselves to different learning styles. Some kids revel in the classroom environment and fly through tests and homework with no trouble at all. Some kids have great difficulty and can’t seem to grasp the concepts the teachers try and pass on to them. These teachers are torn between having to teach a room full of kids and not having the time or ability to teach the same thing to different kids in different ways.
Homework is another problem. How are kids who learn in different ways supposed to handle the sometimes overwhelming load of homework when left to their own devices? If parents are sometimes at a loss over the assignments their kids bring home, can kids realistically be expected to complete their schoolwork without the help they may need?
Parents need to be especially aware of how their children best learn so that they can share this information with teachers. It won’t be easy and sometimes not possible for teachers to accommodate one child’s ideal learning method at the expense of the other students but parents can work with the teachers lessons to apply them at home and in a broad way in the classroom in the way their child learns best. So let’s look at the different learning styles and you can see which one best fits your child.
Auditory learners are those who learn best through hearing things explained to them. These children do best in oral tests. If they’re reading a book, you may find them reading out loud. This is because hearing the words aids in their comprehension more so than if they simply had to read the words off a page. Though they may not be able to take your child aside and work with him one on one for each lesson. Maybe your child’s teacher can take special care to explain concepts out loud. Also it may be worth it to have your kid miss a few recesses for some one on one time with the teacher if he’s struggling through a particularly difficult lesson.
Visual learners take in information best through visual aids. Using things like billboards, posters, diagrams etc, help visual learners take in and retain information better than just reading or listening to the teacher. They may find they can copy things from the board down into their notebooks and understand it because the board works as a visual aid. They can take the words they see and comprehend the concepts as they either re-write them in ways they’ll understand or write them exactly as they appear. Being close to the front of the class is the best place for a visual learner to sit. Having them see things like math problems in action with the use of props like apples or other visual aids help them do better in problem solving.
You’ll find tactile learners do especially well in things like science and art. They can best process concepts through touching them and working with them. By working through problems with hands on methods, they find it easier to understand the lessons. You may find that they may have trouble during tests or when scientific concepts are taught to them using books or verbally, but they flourish during scientific experiments. Their brains are wired to better retain ideas and information when they can physically work through them.
These are the three basic learning styles that most children fall into. Once you know which your child seems to find easiest, you can work with their teacher to tailor their lessons to their learning style. Even if teachers can’t always teach in a style that fits your specific child, they can go about their lessons in a broader way, encompassing each learning style. You can then help your child at home as well in the style that he finds easiest.
Your child might feel frustrated at school because the lessons aren’t tailored in the way he learns best. He may feel stupid and have very low self esteem. These feelings my follow him through his school years leaving him with a hatred of school and learning which can only lead to problems later. If this frustration leads to him dropping out, his ability to find a good job he enjoys and be a productive member of society will be severely compromised. This could lead to further feelings of low self esteem and might develop into depression.
This bleak future can be easily headed off by simply opening a dialogue between you and your child’s teacher. Just a few tweaks here and there to accommodate different learning styles have been proven in studies completed in schools in both New York and North Carolina to dramatically increase student’s academic performance.
So instead of sticking to one method of teaching, encourage our child’s school to allow for a more open classroom where different learning styles are encouraged. For example, if a lot of auditory learners are in the classroom, maybe the school can look into investing in some lessons or books on tape.
The main thing is for teachers to work in these different learning styles in the broadest way possible so all the students can benefit regardless of their personal learning style. You don’t want your child to feel singled out, you want them to flourish and he can do that best in an open, supportive environment both at school and at home.