Thursday, September 11, 2014

Learning Styles

School is back in session, and if you're like me, your child is already swamped with homework and the dreaded science fair project.

 On my blog for girls here, I posted about learning styles today and included a quiz from The Christian Girl's Guide to Me: The Quiz Book to help them figure out their learning style. It's just a fun quiz, though, and there are better online quizzes published by professionals in the field.

I thought for this blog, I post an article I wrote about kinesthetic learners several years ago. Leave your thoughts about learning styles in the comment section.

     As a mother, foster mother and former teacher, I've had the chance to interact with children from a variety of backgrounds. At times I've been told that a child doesn't have much potential. This isn't true. Every child has potential and can learn, but each will do it in his own way and time. When we discover how a child best learns, we can make the process easier and provide more chances for success.
      If a child isn't learning, have ears and eyes checked first. A child who can't see the blackboard or words a page won't learn well. A child who can't hear instructions has little chance of getting things right. Request testing to eliminate special learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
Learning styles
     If everything has been ruled out and your child still seems to have trouble learning, take a look at his learning style. There are three kinds of learners:
     Auditory. The auditory learner does best when things are explained verbally. He enjoys books on tape more than reading books, and he may need to study with music in the background or learn his multiplication tables by singing them rather than writing them.
     The auditory learner does best when traditional teaching methods are used such as teacher lectures, explanations, and discussions.

     Visual. The visual learner gets his information from books, charts, and graphs. He does well with worksheets and workbooks. Films, overhead transparencies, and things written on the blackboard benefit the visual learner.
     The visual learner does well with to-do lists, calendars, and written assignment pages.

     Kinesthetic. The kinesthetic learner has the toughest time at school. He needs to touch, hold, and manipulate things to learn. He needs to count beads to learn to add and subtract and to perform a science experiment to understand it.
     The kinesthetic learner does well when he can perform an experiment, act out a story, or go on a field trip.

The traditional classroom
     Most classrooms benefit the auditory and visual learners. A teacher writes things on the board as she explains them. She hands out a worksheet with written instructions that she also reads aloud to the class. The kinesthetic learner is the one who has the most problems. In preschool and kindergarten, there are many opportunities to touch and manipulate. There may be a sand or water play area, plastic bears to use for counting, and all sorts of things in a science center to touch.
     Once a child is past these early grades, the kinesthetic activities are reduced. Often touching and manipulating things is discouraged. The kinesthetic learner struggles unless the parents and teacher can work together to produce an environment that allows for the child's learning style.
     If your child doesn't seem to be learning well, observe him and try to figure out his learning style. Then ask yourself, "Does my child's teacher teach in a way that benefits my child?" If you suspect that your child's learning style isn't compatible with the teaching methods in his classroom, schedule a conference. Ask the teacher how the classroom work could be modified to help your child learn. You may have to do some brainstorming and offer positive suggestions to the teacher and even the principal or administrator but the effort will be worth it when you see your child come alive and begin learning.

What kind of learner is your child? Check out the quiz on my other blog using the link above.

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