What learning style does your child have? Does he/she learn by listening, seeing, or doing?
Many children do badly in school because their learning styles are different from what is used in their school. The problem today is that most schools adopt a ‘one size fits all’ policy, where they give standardized tests and assessments that aim to test only one way of learning: mostly learning by listening. Those children who have a different learning style do badly in such an environment.
As parents what we can do is, first of all, to know the learning style of our children, and see if their school has teaching methodology and tests aligned to it. The following are the chief learning styles of children.
The seven styles of learning
- Visual/spatial style of learning
Visual/spatial learners prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to learn new information. They have a good spatial sense, and will be good at directions.
- Aural (auditory/musical) style of learning
Aural learners remember words of stories and songs very well. They learn best listening to stories, and from songs and rhymes. They have a good sense of pitch and rhythm. They can usually sing, play a musical instrument, or identify the sounds of different instruments. Auditory learners gain new information best by hearing it.
- Verbal/ linguistic style of learning
Verbal learners learn best from the written and the spoken word. Verbal learners are good at expressing themselves, both in writing and speaking. They may be good at public speaking, and writing essays and stories in school.
- Physical/kinesthetic style of learning
The physical/kinesthetic learners use their body and sense of touch to learn about the world. They like making models of things. While learning about the parts of a machine, they are likely to pull the machine apart and put it back together, instead of reading or looking at diagrams about how it works. Typically, such learners cannot sit still listening to a talk or lecture. Teachers may label such kids as ‘hyper active’. In fact, they are just physical/kinesthetic learners.
- Solitary/intrapersonal style of learning
Solitary learners like to be alone and learn by themselves. They may dislike learning in groups and prefer ‘self-study’. Their time with an instructor or teacher is just to clarify what they cannot understand by themselves. They are independent learners.
- Social/interpersonal style of learning
Social/interpersonal learners like to learn in groups or classes, or like to spend time with a teacher or instructor. They enjoy studying with other children. Such children would typically stay back after class and talk to others. They like social activities and games, such as board games, and team sports such as football or basketball.
- Logical/mathematical style of learning
Logical/ mathematical learners are good with numbers and can perform complex calculations. They are good at creating to-do lists, and typically like brainteaser, backgammon, and chess. They may like PC games such as Dune II, Starcraft, Age of Empires, Sid Meier games and others.
How do you know your child’s learning style?
The following is a simple test to understand your child’s learning style. Pick out the best option that describes your child.
- If you let your child pick out one toy at the dollar store, which toy is he/she most likely to choose?
- a) colour or paint-by-number colouring/painting set
- b)play microphone
- c) hula hoop or football
- d) a book
- e) any toy that he can play with friends
- f) a game of chess
- g) a toy personal computer
- If your child could only choose one after-school activity, which would he choose?
- a) art lessons
- b) music lessons
- c) sports or drama lessons
- d) the book-club
- e) any group activity
- f) chess club
- g) would rather not join any activity
- If you are out for dinner or the movies, and there is a ten-minute wait, how would your child occupy himself/herself?
- a) doodling
- b) talking your ear off
- c) digging in your purse while bouncing in place
- d) reading a book
- e) try to make friends with other children
- f) telling riddles
- g)stay quiet
- If you ask you child to pick a family activity, which is he/she most likely to choose?
- a) a movie
- b) a concert
- c) mini golf
- d) going to the library
- e) going to friends’ houses
- f) a game of chess
- g) would love to stay in his room
- If your child reads a book to himself, he:
- a) sits quietly, immersed in its contents
- b) mouths the words aloud or asks you to read it to him
- c) fidgets frequently
- d) gets lost in reading
- e) wants to tell the story to you
- f) flips through the book to understand the story line
- g) reads silently with the book in his/her room
- On an iPad, which of the following activities is your child most likely to do?
- a) looking at photos
- b) listening to music
- c) playing Angry Birds or another video game
- d) reads a book on iPad
- e) group games
- f) mind/logic games
- g) games with single player
Look at your answers.
Have you answered mostly a’s?
Your child is a visual learner. He/she responds best when new material is in lists, charts, graphs, and diagrams. He can write spelling words or state capitals in different colors so they’re easier to memorize.
Have you answered mostly b’s?
Your child is an aural/auditory learner. He/she does well with verbal instructions. Saying things aloud can help her retain info, and re-playing the recording boosts comprehension even more.
Have you answered mostly c’s?
Your child learns by doing. In other words, he/she is a physical/kinesthetic learner. Such learners will do very well if learning becomes physical: doing experiments in science, or using blocks to count in mathematics.
Have you answered mostly d’s?
Your child is a verbal/linguistic learner. He/she will find book a delight, and writing a pleasure. Such children need to be given plenty of books to read, and opportunities to write stories or poems. They may not be very physical, and may not do well in sports.
Have you answered mostly e’s?
Your child is a social/interpersonal learner. He/she needs to be in a group, and discuss ideas before internalizing them. Studying alone is likely to be a herculean task.
Have you answered mostly f’s?
This child is a logical/mathematical learner. He/she typically is good at math, and any subject that involves calculations and logic. He/she usually is very systematic and organized. Such a child will best learn by reasoning and understanding.
Have you answered mostly g’s?
This is a solitary/intrapersonal learner. He/she may not like to discuss and learn in a group. Such a child would typically be independent, and good at researching online for projects for school. It would be counterproductive to force such children to take part in a group study, as their learning style is very much individualistic.
Being aware of your child’s learning style is the first step towards helping him/her do well academically, and chart a successful course of life.