When teaching my kids this year, I’ve really had to dig into their unique learning preferences to ensure we had a smoother homeschooling experience. Things I’ve previously done with my youngest daughter in preschool no longer work the same for her (now that she’s almost in first grade.) I’ve also learned more about my 6th grader’s preferences and it’s made the process of choosing curriculum a lot easier for all of us.
Although there are at least 7 unique learning styles, I will focus on three of the most common: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
Watch my learning styles video
Auditory learners rely heavily on their listening skills when learning. They also need to repeat aloud what they hear in addition to simple written instructions. I’m a strong auditory learner. I learned way back in college that it wasn’t enough to take notes from my professor. I literally needed to take those notes back to my dorm and record myself reading the notes aloud into a tape recorder and replay it over and over again so that I actually got it. Both of my girls have auditory tendencies, but one in particular (my eldest) is really good about listening and repeating verbatim what she’s heard. She enjoys learning this way so much that participating in Awana (a bible club for students) has proven to be the highlight of her week, because she has the opportunity to memorize scripture through listening and repeating.
Techniques: Auditory learners should participate in group discussions and ask lots of questions about class material. As I did back in college, reading assignments aloud will help the auditory learner tremendously. Recording themselves reading the material aloud can be a great help as well.
Most kids are a combination of each. I don’t think anyone is all auditory or all visual. We humans tend to learn in a variety of methods and God made us complex beings, so we’ll most likely pull from a bit of each. However, visual learners tend to learn very well by watching. They need to see it to know it. Oftentimes visual learners can actually see the page of a book in their minds. In addition to being an auditory, I have a strong leaning toward the visual style. For me, seeing is believing. Show me how, and I can do almost anything. (That’s why I love YouTube so much!) If you have students who are strong visual learners, here are a few techniques that can help you when teaching them.
Techniques:Use visual cues often in teaching, such as illustrations, charts and diagrams, videos, slides. For younger children, try color-coding things to be remembered or learned (such as chore charts, or investing in phonics or math programs that offer visual stimulation such as color or accompanying video). Have older students write down things to be remembered- using a notebook or markerboard.
One of my kids (my youngest) is an extremely kinesthetic learner. This means that she prefers to hop, skip, jump, touch, taste, and feel when learning. Because she’s so active I’ve had to adapt many of our lessons to fit her energy level and stage of maturity. She can sit for much longer periods of time now that she’s 6, but she definitely has an affinity for moving around. We’ve oftentimes called her our little “drama queen”, but we mean it in the best way. Give her a line from a play and she will act it out in full costume and much dramatic flair.
There are a few unique ways to reach the kinesthetic learner, who can be quite active but a lot of fun.
Techniques:Select curriculum that offers hands-on activities to accompany lessons (or find add-on activities online), invent (or locate) games to accompany lesson plans, and get kinesthetic learners involved in physical activity as much as possible. For example, for younger children you can have them learn multiplication with hopscotch, history facts with music and dance, science with hands-on experiments, or math with games.
In general, we all have a little of each of these learning styles that we draw from, but I’m almost positive your kids have one or two strong ones that they lean towards the most.
Here’s a nifty quiz you can take to find out what your learning style is:
So how about your kids? Which learning styles do they learn toward the most? Which curriculum or materials do you use to accommodate their learning styles?