Learning style is a term that refers to the different ways we learn, process and retain information. All young children learn through meaningful hands-on experiences – by touching, doing and moving. Children also learn through sight and sound. As you observe your child, you will begin to identify strengths and preferences that can tell you something about your child’s preferred learning style.
You want to develop your child’s strengths, but remember that this also helps to challenge his growth. Your child can excel in a variety of areas. So, offer a variety of experiences to help your child develop new strengths and interests that will broaden his or her understanding of the world.
Types of Learning Styles
The following are the four main types of learning styles.
• Visual (learning through observation)
• Auditory (learning by hearing)
• Tactile (learning through touch)
• Kinesthetic (learning by doing and moving)
Visual learners learn through observation. Children who are visual processors tend to observe their parents’ or teachers’ body language and facial expressions to acquire content and learn through demonstration and description. They tend to have a developed imagination and often think in pictures. Too much movement or action in the classroom may distract them. For older children who read, written instructions may help clarify verbal directions.
Auditory learners learn by listening. Children who are auditory processors learn by participating in discussions and talking about things. Verbal instructions may help clarify instructions or written information. Too much noise may be distracting, and children with this power may learn best in a quiet environment.
Tactile learners learn through touch. Children who are more tactile prefer activities or projects that allow them to use their hands. Your child may prefer to doodle or draw to help with memory.
Kinesthetic learners learn by moving and doing. A more kinesthetic child learns through body sensations and may have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time. A hands-on approach that allows your child to actively explore her physical world helps her learn best.
How do I determine my child’s learning style?
The best way to understand your child’s learning style is to observe what he or she is doing. Actions, interests, and preferences will provide information about how he or she processes information.
If your child has developmental delays, you may find that you often focus on what your child is not yet doing. Instead, try focusing on his strengths and favorite activities. All children, even the most challenged ones, have interests and preferences. Identifying these can help increase your child’s motivation to learn.
Talk with family members and your child’s team to compile a list of toys, items and activities that are meaningful to your child. Ask yourself questions like.
• What types of toys does she like? Does she like quiet activities or lots of exercise?
• Does he like to read books and draw pictures? Does he prefer to be shown how to do something rather than being told verbally?
• Does she take initiative? Does she like to move and participate in more active activities?
• Is he attracted to numbers and patterns?
How do you support your child’s learning style?
Parents and teachers have a huge impact on children. Understanding how children learn can improve the way we teach them. Early childhood programs are often organized in ways that support children’s various strengths and needs.
• Adequate activity time
• Group circles and music time
• Learning centers in the classroom that include a myriad of experiences (e.g., reading corners, block areas, manipulative/fine motor areas, outdoor play, and art)
This supports the participation of children with a wide range of learning styles, while also exposing children to experiences they would not normally seek out.
As adults, we can help children better understand their strengths and individual differences, while supporting challenges. You can look for real-world experiences that extend your child’s learning. For example, if your child is interested in fish and aquatic life, visit an aquarium. Your child will retain more information and develop a broader understanding of the world if the information is meaningful and presented in a way that matches his or her individual learning style.