One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Your child’s unique learning style and strategies to use at home
In last week’s post we discussed what learning styles are and the main types of learning as presented in the VAK model of learning styles. The next step is OBSERVING how your child learns best by watching them complete homework and seeing what approach they take. Do they get easily frustrated with written assignments? Do they tend to draw or sketch a diagram as their answer over writing it? Do they prefer to listen to you explain how to do something over reading it themselves?
If you are scratching your head as to what type of learning style your child might be, take a look at our signs of the different learning styles. We have even included some strategies to use at home for each.
Signs that your child might be a VISUAL LEARNER:
- They like solving puzzles and enjoy leafing through books, especially ones with pictures
- They are drawn to artwork, posters and other vibrant displays on the wall
- They demonstrate keen powers of observation and don’t miss a trick!
- STRATEGIES TO USE WITH VISUAL LEARNERS:
- Incorporate diagrams, charts, graphs or pictures into their school work
- For test revision, use flash cards and Mind Maps
- Use coloured highlighters to emphasize key words or to underline main concepts
- Using symbols instead of words may assist in memorization
Signs that your child might be an AUDITORY LEARNER:
- They gravitate towards music, songs, instruments, etc. and can learn a song just by hearing it once
- They can usually follow verbal instructions immediately after only hearing it once or twice
- STRATEGIES TO USE WITH AUDITORY LEARNERS:
- Play music or white noise in the background while completing a task
- Allow them to “talk it out” – have them explain their newfound knowledge or describe a task
- Use audio materials and have audio books readily available at home
- Use stories, anecdotes, puns, jokes, songs from You Tube, rhymes or raps to aid with learning
Signs that your child might be a KINAESTHETIC LEARNER:
- They constantly squirm while completing homework, fiddling with equipment
- They best learn while completing “hands on” activities
- They enjoy field trips and being able to “move around”
- STRATEGIES TO USE WITH KINAESTHETIC LEARNERS:
- Keep a healthy supply of art materials – scissors, construction paper and glue are great to make collages or mosaics
- Use beads or other suitable objects like fingers when learning how to count
- Role playing is a great way to get him or her out of their chair and engaged
- Use materials like Lego for math activities (making a lego bar chart is fun!)
- Using sticky notes to brainstorm ideas is a great kinaesthetic activity
There are various on-line tools you can use to help discover your child’s preferred learning style, including Brainboxx’s VAK questionnaire which allows your child to choose the answers that best fit their preferences.
The key thing is not to worry if your child doesn’t fall into any one specific category or if they demonstrate characteristics of more than one learning style. Learning styles are not permanently fixed nor are they a concrete formula for success. As a student grows, matures and develops both physically and intellectually, their preference for learning style may evolve as well. Re-evaluating a student’s learning style on an annual basis is a good way to check-in with their academic and cognitive development and not pigeon-hole them into one specific style.
Research also shows us that understanding how your child likes to learn and how they best process information may help in improving their academic attainment, however, this is not fixed and more scientific study is required. Sometimes, according to an article from Wired, the most effective way for us to learn is based not on our individual preferences but on the nature of the material we’re being taught. For example, trying to learn French grammar pictorially or learning algebra purely verbally may be next to impossible for some.
Showing an interest in how our children learn may help to foster a lifelong love of learning and demonstrate that not everyone learns the same. Spend a few minutes with your budding scholar and find out what type of learner they are today!