The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that we can reach our children in the way that they learn best. For a child with special needs, this is an added bonus since teaching to a learning style in a one-to-one setting is ideal for academic success.
This post will help you discover your child’s dominant learning style so that you can better gear your lessons.
What are learning styles?
The human brain learns best when it can easily understand what it is being fed. Since each person’s brain is different, each person also learns differently so the brain requires distinctive ways for information to fuel it. This individual difference in the way information is processed is considered to be a learning style.
Three Learning Styles
There are three main learning styles: auditory, visual and tactile/ kinesthetic.
The auditory learner is said to learn best by listening. The visual learner is believed to learn best through sight, while the tactile/ kinesthetic learner learns best by manipulating objects and moving around.
How to identify your child’s learning style
It’s important to note that children learn using a blend of the three learning styles within their day. However, one style tends to dominate and is the one that should best guide your teaching.
There are many checklists/ quizzes available to help you figure out your child’s learning style. I find that parents are at an advantage over other professionals since you have years-worth of observations to go by.
I like to encourage parents to observe their child:
- during free time (What does he choose to do?)
- during playtime (What does he choose to play with?)
- while in the company of others (Does he tend to join in or keep to himself?)
- in structured activities (What tasks does he struggle with? What is his behavior like? What comes easily to him?)
Further, ask yourself:
- Does my child tend to listen more?
- Is he drawn by visuals?
- Does he prefer to move and use his body?
You will find that you can intuitively pinpoint your child’s dominant learning style. You will now be better able to plan for your child’s learning.
How to teach to a dominant learning style
The suggestions below are general guidelines to reaching a child through his dominant learning style. Remember not to completely ignore the other styles in favor of your child’s style. In order to help raise and develop a well-rounded child, it’s recommended to use a variety of techniques when teaching. However, for a struggling learner, go to the teaching tips underneath his category first.
Auditory learners need:
- verbal cues
- audio books or stories or read alouds
- rhymes and rhythms
- conversations and oral language
Visual learners need:
- pictures and visual cues
- visual representations of the activity
- charts and graphs and graphic organizers (like mind maps)
- to take notes
- art and color
Tactile/ Kinesthetic learners need:
- movement while learning
- concrete examples of the activity
- activities with touch of different textures and shapes
- manipulatives/ hands-on activities
- dance, exercise, sports
It’s a great idea to teach your child about his own learning style, if you believe he is ready to understand it. Knowing his learning style will help your child feel capable and empowered. This is especially true when there are other siblings learning right along with him. Rather than focusing on the things he cannot do like his brother, for instance, your child will be able to pull from his pool of learning methods and be a confident learner.