You probably remember what school was like when you were a child. You know what subjects you enjoyed–and you may remember the subjects you didn’t like. You also know how you learned new information the best. Maybe you retained more when you read your textbook, or maybe you liked it better when the teacher lectured, or maybe you did the best with hands -on activities. You likely still discover new information in the same way you picked it up in school.
However, when it comes to your child, you need to forget everything you remember about your school preferences. That may sound drastic, but it’s really necessary if you want your child to do his or her best. Your child is a unique individual. Not only is it likely that his or her subject preference differs from yours, but your child may also learn differently than you do.
In terms of learning styles, there are three main types: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic or tactile. Your child may use one or all of these styles as he or she progresses through school. The rest of this message will define these styles and give you strategies to help your child make the most of his or her dominant learning style in school.
Visual learners benefit from seeing or observing the way something looks or works.
Think about and ask your child the following questions. Does he or she have a hard time remembering names although he or she can always remember a face? How does he or she recall information? Does he or she see images? If so, your child is likely a visual learner.
If your child is a visual learner, try the following approaches:
*Ask your child to highlight important information on worksheets or handouts with a marker or draw a line under it with a pencil.
*Make flash cards for your child. Simple math facts and vocabulary words lend themselves well to flash cards.
*Help your child make charts, diagrams, and graphs to better understand and express information.
Auditory learners learn best by hearing or listening.
If your child is an auditory learner, he or she probably retains more information when the lesson is presented verbally and when the teacher questions the whole class. Ask your child if he or she does well in class discussions. Is he or she easily distracted by noises? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, your child is likely an auditory learner.
You can help your auditory learner do better in school by:
*Reading aloud to him or her or having the child read material aloud.
*Using mnemonic devices or phrases when memorizing materials. Do you remember all of the colors of the rainbow? If you memorized Roy G. Biv, you probably do.
*Allowing your child to study with a friend so he or she can hear and talk about information.
Kinesthetic or tactile learners learn best by touching or doing.
You’ll know easily if your child is a tactile learner. Is he or she the only person in the family who can set the digital recorder or run the computer? Does he or she love to build things? Is your child often out of his or her seat in the classroom? Yes, yes, and yes? Then your child learns best with hands-on activities.
You can try the following things to help your kinesthetic learner do better in the classroom:
*Ask your child to act out or demonstrate concepts. For instance, to help your child understand that verbs are action words, you might have him or her act out the meaning of the word.
*When helping your child with homework, give him or her a real world perspective on the content. For example, if your child is working with fractions, get out the measuring cups.
*Take advantage of hands-on projects. Your tactile learner will enjoy these assignments the most.
*Allow your child access to multimedia applications and learning tools on the computer.
Help your child discover his or her own learning style.
By doing so, you not only make your child more responsible for his or her own learning, but you heighten his or her awareness of how he or she learns. With your help, your child can develop strategies for making the best use of his or her dominant style, as well as overcoming any obstacles he or she may have with other learning styles.
From “Cut & Paste” vol. 12/#3/March 2011