In general, we rely on three methods to learn about the world.
- Visual (seeing)
- Auditory (hearing)
- Tactile Kinesthetic (touching)
Although most of us use some combination of these approaches, we tend to prefer one style to the others. What method of learning does your child most often seek out?
For example, my youngest child is a visual learner.
- She processes information by reading and watching.
- She remembers details better if she reads them. She’s not a fan of audiobooks.
- She needs opportunities for quiet time to pursue her interests and she tends to be more comfortable working alone rather than in groups.
- I’m an auditory learner, so I tend to give lengthy verbal explanations. When I make this mistake, her eyes wander and she becomes restless.
My son is an auditory learner.
- He processes information by listening.
- He enjoys having someone read to him.
- Some auditory learners are especially responsive to music and the performing arts. Most respond well to audio recordings, rhyming games, read-alouds, and opportunities to repeat new information aloud.
- Many auditory learners enjoy working in groups.
- Almost all auditory learners find background noise distracting.
My middle child is a tactile/kinesthetic learner. Kinesthetic learners are the doers! Not surprisingly, she became a ballerina.
- She processes information through movement and touch.
- She enjoys hands-on experiments, field trips and opportunities for movement.
- She uses movement and hands-on activities to cement her understanding of new concepts and ideas.
- She benefitted from the use of materials such as LEGO pieces, K’Nex, and clay.
- She required generous amounts of time for climbing, running, and jumping.
Understanding how your children process information will make summer learning a whole lot of fun. It will be of use when your children return to more formal studies in the fall.
Determining Your Child’s Learning Style
Your child’s preferred learning method might be immediately evident or it may take some time to put your finger on it. Start by observing your child while he is at work and play. You’ll find out a lot this way.
There are also many online tools to help determine one’s learning style. If your child is interested, she might enjoy trying a free online quiz like the learning styles quiz here.
It’s perfectly natural to favor teaching methods that complement our own learning styles. As an auditory learner, I want to explain things by talking but I have learned that this method works with only one of my children. The other two require more opportunities for visual and hands-on learning. Identifying and using the method of learning that works best for your child ensures a smoother process and a whole lot more fun.
For more ideas on understanding your child’s learning style and putting that information to use, please see our book, The Summertime Survival Guide for Parents: How to Create a Summer of Wonder, Discovery, and Fun!