What is My Child's Learning Style?
Whether you're homeschooling or simply wanting to better understand how your child learns in general, here are the four primary learning styles and how to determine which style applies to your child.
How a curriculum is designed can make or break a child's grades and level of understanding depending on how well it matches with their style of learning. Visual kids may not pick up hardly a thing if forced to listen to endless lectures on a topic, and kinesthetic learners likely won't retain very much from just being shown a bunch of graphics.
Here is a quick overview of the four main learning styles to help you narrow down which one may best apply to your child:
You may ask: What if my child fits into more than one category? Well, we've got that covered too. :)
Visual learning is probably the most straightforward learning style of the four. It is simply when one learns best through visual representations of information. This can be through diagrams, charts, picture aids, Powerpoint presentations, lesson outlines, or other very visual means of displaying information.
These are the individuals who benefit from taking notes and structuring and decorating them as they please to help retain their lessons better, doodling around these notes (which may seem counter-productive but it actually helps in many cases), and color-coding information. They also do best when avoiding or minimizing visual distractions during learning periods as their brains are more likely to pick up on visual information regardless of whether it's relevant or not.
Auditory learners are those who learn best when hearing the information, whether it's coming from another person or they are simply reading aloud to themselves.
The perfect environments and learning tools for these individuals are lecture-style classes, using headphones during virtual learning to really isolate the sounds of the instructor and avoid distractions, engaging in discussions with classmates or educators, and receiving verbal instructions. Having an auditory learner read material aloud, even if just to themselves, is actually a very effective way to help them retain the information they're being taught.
As per the name, those with the reading-writing learning style do best when either reading information, writing it down, or both. They greatly benefit from taking notes, having a printed copy of lesson notes to review on their own time, and being able to read and review these written materials as needed.
These learners excel when provided with written texts such as books and printouts, and they are the individuals who can ace tests when writing up study guides in their preferred note-taking formats.
Kinesthetic learners have to move. They have to be actively engaged and doing something for the information to stick with them. These are your hands-on kids that learn more from dissecting a frog than reading about it or looking at diagrams.
These individuals love to touch, feel, and interact in a variety of activities and projects. Sitting down and staring at books or screens just don't vibe with them. Providing them with standing desks or wiggle chairs is likely to benefit them in staying on the move while still engaging in learning activities.
Additionally, there is some confusion regarding whether certain kids are kinesthetic learners or whether they may have ADHD. This is something worth discussing with your pediatrician if you feel that there is a possibility of your child having ADHD.
What If My Child Fits into More Than One of These Learning Styles?
If your child appears to have multiple learning styles, you're not alone. This is incredibly common, especially as children grow older and acquire more skills for learning and retaining information.
When a child has more than one type of learning style, this is simply referred to as having a multi-modal learning style.
There are both pros and cons to this, though. On the good side, this means that your child isn't limited when it comes to the ways in which they learn, so they have plenty of opportunities to better grasp the information offered to them. However, on the flip side, having multiple modes of learning may make it more difficult to determine which style to cater to when designing your child's curriculum for the year.
Regardless, the more you know about how your child learns, the more you can tailor each lesson and topic to best help them understand.
For a free learning styles quiz, check out the VARK Questionnaire here.