Learning is all about style

January 17, 2012 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years

Any child who’s a fan of the Disney television show “Hannah Montana” has likely seen the episode in which Hannah (Miley Cyrus) sings “The Bone Dance Song.” It’s a song she made up to help her remember the skeletal system for a science test. Singing is a great way to remember information, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way for every student.

Some kids absorb information better if they can see it, while others thrive when they hear it being taught. Then there are those who have to write everything down. They’re all learning – they simply have different styles.

Teachers understand that not everyone learns information in the same way. Recognizing this as a parent is important, especially when it comes to homework. Your daughter’s method of using word associations to memorize vocabulary words (auditory) may seem insane to your son, who would rather read his list over and over (visual) in order to commit it to memory. By recognizing your child’s preferred learning style, you can provide support in the appropriate manner.

Auditory learners are people who best learn by listening and speaking.

They may prefer to have background music while they’re studying, or they may need a quiet space to study because they’re distracted by background noises. They tend to enjoy talking and interviewing, and will often embrace assignments that involve debating or oral reports. They more easily retain information if they discuss written material – or even if they simply talk to themselves out loud. Auditory learners tend to latch onto word associations, or create a song they can sing to remember the information.

Visual learners are seers

Visual learners are best able to recall information that is written down or presented in video form. They generally enjoy observing things such as posters, diagrams, maps, graphs, charts, computer graphics or text with lots of pictures. Your visual learner will likely find flashcards helpful.

Kinesthetic learners learn by touching and manipulating objects.

They remember best when they are doing something – writing down information, drawing, making models or following instructions to make something all play to this learner’s strengths. They remember information best if they act it out – so they thrive in an environment that allows them to move around. Even something as simple as squeezing a stress ball or taking frequent breaks can enhance their learning experience.

Figuring out your child’s learning style

It’s likely you’ll figure out your child uses a combination of styles – most people do (flash cards actually tap into both visual and auditory styles, for example). But you’ll notice your child tends to favor one. Of course, like everything with children, this can change over time.

The key is to help your child learn to use all styles of learning, because it enables them to absorb information better. So whether your child is primarily a visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) or kinesthetic (touching) learner, providing support at home can ultimately improve achievement at school.

Whatever your child’s learning style, remember the added benefit of extra quality time together. And that’s something worth singing about.


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