Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What is your Child's Learning Style?

When we were in school, we were expected to learn in the manner in which material was presented, often in textbook form with a lot of repetition, drill and pencil-and-paper test. Many parents including myself never encountered the idea of learning styles when we were in school.

If a child had difficulty learning, the child was assumed to have been at fault. Some of those children may have been underachievers, or felt as if they were failures because they didn't learn concepts the way the teacher presented them.

Today we know that how we learn has a big impact on whether we learn at all, and that the same material can be presented and evaluated effectively in a few different ways. Mismatches between a child's learning style and the learning environment are a frequent cause of learning difficulties.

There are 3 types of learning styles

Visual Learning
Chileren learn best by seeing things. They benefit from diagrams, charts, pictures, films and etc.

Auditory Learning
Children learn best by hearing things. They benefit from read aloud, information is presented and requested verbally.

Kinesthetic Learning
These are children that learn best by experiencing/doing things. They benefit from total engagement with a learning activity. They learn faster through drama presentation, science lab, field trips and etc.

Another way to approach the idea of learning styles is to ask whether we learn best by seeing (visual) or by hearing (auditory) and whether we arrange things and ideas best in space (spatial) or in time (sequential). A visual-spatial learner will be able to 'see' patterns and connections in space. People with this learning style often excel in art, architecture, physics and etc. An auditory-sequential learner will be able to 'hear' patterns and connections in the realm of time. Writers, musical composers and lecturers must have strong auditory-sequential skills.

The traditional school model favors an auditory-sequential style. Children are expected to learn in a step-by-step sequential manner. In school, children are usually surrounded by words rather than pictures as the primary information source. In school, the emphasis is on rote memorization and reiteration of details.

The visual-spatial learner, however, often learns best by not following the usual sequence of steps, by thinking and doing in 3D - with design and construction and experimentation - rather than with pencil and paper, and by exploring 'big picture' concepts before delving into details and facts.

Understanding how children learn best and prefer to learn saves time and energy in the long term; learning is more efficient and frustration reduced. Once you know your child's styles and preferences, you can think of creative ways to introduce new subjects and reinforce previous learning.

Can't figure out your child's learning style? No worries, start with mix media learning. :) Do you realized that multimedia always appeals to children? It is because it satisfies the many learning preferences that a child may embody.

Some examples to facilitate different learning styles (reference to Creative Homeschooling by Lisa Rivero):

Visual Learning
Vides, books with plenty of pictures, chalkboard/whiteboard, paints and other art supplies for creative experimentation and play, charts, photographs, pictures- encourage the child to hang maps and posters around the house; cut colorful photos and graphics form magazines to put in scrapbook, art museum field trips.

Auditory learning
CDs - start early in allowing the child his or her own music collection bayed on personal taste books on tape are great for car rides or bed-time relaxation, musical toys and instruments- encourage children to make their own, plenty of opportunities for informal discussion - mealtime, car time and etc.

Kinesthetic Learning
Floor puzzle, blocks, chalkboard/white board, Cooking and building activities, field trips, role plays.

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