Your child keeps bouncing up and down in his chair while you are trying to explain his Maths homework – is he even listening?
As young children, we naturally learn through meaningful hands-on experiences such as touching, doing and moving. However, as we get older, each of us has a preferred way in which we learn, process and retain information and skills. This is called learning style, and you’ll need to discover your child’s if you want him to grasp that Maths problem!
When it comes to learning, one size does not fit all. In fact, there are three main ways to learn: visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinaesthetic (moving). This means that some children will process information best by hearing someone explain it, some will learn by seeing it, and others will need to try hands-on exercises.
No single learning style is better than another – all three are unique, valid ways of processing information – and no-one fits into a single box. Instead, we learn through a combination of all three, applying them to varying degrees.
How does your child learn?
Identifying your child’s primary learning style will help him learn more effectively.
The visual learner
He processes new information by reading, looking at graphics or watching a demonstration. He can grasp information presented in a chart or graph, but he may grow impatient listening to an explanation.
- Learn best through images; charts, diagrams and maps.
- Can sit quietly and play with building blocks.
- May be described as a daydreamer.
- Are good at remembering faces but may forget names.
- Prefer to take detailed notes.
Take note: Telling him how to do something may not make sense to him at all – he needs to see it.
The auditory learner
He prefers listening to explanations over reading them and may like to study by reciting information aloud. He may want background music while studying, or he may be distracted by noises and need a quiet space to study.
- Think in words.
- Enjoy storytelling and word games.
- Love reading and are unlikely to battle with spelling.
- Have an excellent memory for names, dates and trivia.
- Are often musically talented.
Take note: He may look as if he is not paying attention when you talk to him, but his listening skills are more developed than his visual skills.
The kinaesthetic learner
He learns by doing and touching. He may have trouble sitting still while studying, and he is better able to understand information by writing it down or doing hands-on activities.
- Need to move.
- Cannot sit still for long periods.
- Use body language and gestures to communicate.
- Love to touch things.
- Usually excel in sports.
Take note: He may be misdiagnosed as having ADHD or being a troublemaker because the more tradition visual or auditory learning styles don’t work for him.
Once you’ve discovered your child’s primary learning style, it is important to nurture it. However, also encourage the development of the other learning styles to enable your child to better adapt to learning environments and situations that do not necessarily support his preferred learning style.