Learning styles are different approaches to the way information is processed. We all have favorite ways of doing things. Some of us are visual learners. Others prefer to learn by listening. Still others like using their hands.
We also have favorite environments that we like to learn or work in. Some like quiet. Other people prefer noise. Some people prefer to work independently. Still others prefer to work in groups.
As teachers we need to be aware of our learning style because that becomes our teaching style. If our style is different than our children’s they may not learn as well as they should.
Some people are visual learners. These people learn best by seeing. They think in pictures and learn best with visual displays such as;
PECS are helpful in teaching children who are visual and have low auditory skills.
One of my daughters is a visual learner. She likes curriculum that is on video. She likes to see teachers demonstrating how to do something. She also likes textbooks that give good examples.
Other people learn through listening. These people like to listen to lectures and discussions. A sub group of auditory learners like to listen to audio books.
One way we can help auditory learners is by providing songs and rhymes to learn facts. There are songs for learning;
You can find sites on the internet that have educational songs. You will have to find one that fits your style of music. YouTube is another place to look for educational songs.
Visual and auditory learners do well in traditional school settings especially when the two learning styles are combined. Schools teach a lot with lectures and discussions. Schools use diagrams and illustrations. If you homeschool and have a visual / auditory learner you can also do similar activities.
The third type of learning is tactile/kinesthetic or hands-on. Children in this group learn best by exploring the world around them. They are multisensory learners. They like to use their hands or body.
A hands-on approach to learning works well with this learner. Children who are kinesthetic like making things. They like to do;
Children who are kinesthetic also need the freedom to move. Some children in this group lie to learn facts by jumping on a trampoline.
One of the first books that I read about homeschooling is Teaching Tips and Techniques by Rebecca L. Avery. In her book she says that children do not develop a learning style until they are adults. Children go through different ways of learning.
My experience with my children has shown this to be true. When my children were preschoolers and early elementary age they preferred to learn by using their hands. Latter they could understand a lecture if I also included a picture or diagram. Now my high school daughter can listen to lectures and process the information.
How would you teach to the different styles? I have given some examples above but here is another one.
If you are going to teach spelling to a visual learner let him see the words. He will look at how many letters are in the word and the shapes of the letters. I have even seen where children write the word in a form. Letters that are above the line are in tall blocks. Letters that are on the line are the same height. If there is a letter with a tail the box goes below the line.
If you are teaching spelling using phonics is good for auditory learners. Have them sound out the words before spelling.
A tactile learner can write the word several times before taking a test. Some children might also need to jump or do some other physical activity to learn the words.
I think that placing children into learning style categories is too narrow. We also like different environments. Some people like to work in quiet. I am this way and prefer to work in the early mornings when everyone is in bed. Hopefully your child who likes quiet is also an independent learner. If they are independent they can go off to their room or a special school room to do their work.
Some children prefer noise. They can easily do school in the main living areas. Playing music can also help children learn who prefer noise.
Some children are social learners. They like to learn in groups. If you have a social learner you might want to look at joining a co-op so that he can take classes with other children.
I think that we need to be aware of how our children learn. But their learning style should not be the controlling factor in how we teach our children. If we have more than one child it could become difficult and stressful trying to cater to everyone’s preferences. You can teach your child’s weakest subjects according to his learning style. Then try to teach your child to be sensitive to others around them.
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