Know Your Child’s Learning Style

Like a computer, your child’s mind prefers information to be “coded” a certain way in order for him (or her) to fully understand incoming information. For this reason, auditory instruction may not “compute” for a visual learner the way text and pictures will. Likewise, if you want to get a message across to a kinesthetic learner, you will want to make sure your sending it in a kinesthetic “format” that he or she can access. So, what is your child’s learning style?And what type of instruction will help her (or him) learn more easily? Read on to find out.

“Each child has his or her own type of learning style,” says Erin Brown Conroy, mother of 12 and author of 20 Secrets to Success with Your Child (Celtic Cross Communications, $16.95,ParentingWithSuccess.com). “Learning styles are the primary way a person takes in and processes information. Identifying your child’s learning style can give you a better perspective on how he or she looks at life and help improve your interactions.”

With nearly 30 years experience instructing children and counseling families, Conroy is a parenting columnist, a frequent guest on radio shows, and a popular speaker who shares secrets that “work” so well, they might seem magical.

The visual learner thinks in images or pictures. The mind of a visual child is a video camera that’s always recording. To recall an event, the visual child simply “plays back” visual images recorded earlier. Visual learners usually do well in the classroom because, traditionally, most information and testing in school is given and completed visually.

To reach the visual learner, give the visual learner something to see. Visual children love to read, look at pictures and watch others. Incorporate pictures, videos and computers to capture a visual child’s attention. Also be sure to give visual children the opportunity to write things down. Visual learners love to write, draw and organize things.

The auditory learner learns best by hearing and listening. Auditory learners have excellent listening skills and possess the ability to catch subtle nuances in words, tone, inflection and overall meaning. Children who often sing or talk to themselves are often auditory learners. Auditory learners love participating in discussions, but they are often easily distracted by other noises, conversations or music.

To reach the auditory learner, you’ll want to provide opportunities for talk. Discussion groups create the most conducive learning opportunities for auditory children. Allow auditory learners to talk through situations and reach solutions. Be sensitive to their need for interaction or verbal repetition.

The kinesthetic learner learns through the body, through touch and experience. These children must do in order to learn. Memory is linked to bodily interaction. While kinesthetic children often excel in activities such as building, sports, drama or dance, they may have difficulty in the classroom because most material is geared for auditory and visual learners. Also, teachers may not appreciate a child moving around and touching things.

To reach the kinesthetic learner, incorporate activities that allow this child to touch, explore, play, perform and create. Since kinesthetic learners don’t have the ability to visualize or to retain information simply by listening, creating opportunities that allow him to interact with the senses is vital.

No single learning style is better than or superior to another. They are all unique, valid ways of processing information. While every child usually has one primary learning style, they possess a “mix” of the other styles that allows them to process information and look at the world in a unique way.

“Resolve to know your child’s learning styles and talk or interact with your child in the way they best understand,” says Conroy. “Better yet, try to communicate using all three learning styles when teaching anything to your child. Then you can be sure your son or daughter ‘gets it!’”

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