Do you know your child's learning style?
Updated: Aug 3
Author: Jinal Trivedi, Customer Success Head, Financepeer
Children are born curious and they try to learn everything by observing their surroundings. These observations can be drawn from touching and smelling, to tasting, hearing, or asking questions. As they grow, each child develops a certain inclination towards one or more style of learning. This is called their primary learning pattern. As a parent, teacher or an informed grown-up, you can identify a child’s primary learning style and can help them gain well-rounded learning, thus, enhancing their educational experience
Many pieces of research over the years suggest that there are three prominent learning patterns: Kinaesthetic, Visual, and Auditory. At the early stages, children show a balance between all the three styles, but gradually they start learning better from one pattern that allows them to excel; and which they continue as an adult as well. As a parent, it is imperative to identify and understand what your child’s primary learning pattern is to help him/her study well.
Let’s start understanding each of these styles so that you can help your child utilise them better:
1. The Kinaesthetic Style
Kinaesthetic learners use physical methods to grasp or acquire a particular piece of information. They have a strong sense of stability, which make them naturally curious learners. Touching, feeling or doing chores helps them learn and they tend to use their fingers to count, make gestures to understand concepts and clap to learn a song. These children often have sharp hand-eye coordination and are inherently good at physical activities like sports and dancing.
As babies, these kids tend to be physically active and generally display early signs of walking. They may have difficulty sitting ideal in one place and become fidgety if they have to. Kinaesthetic learners tend to like activities like clay modelling and would choose craft over drawing or painting. They also love the idea of building blocks, joining puzzles and creating models.
Kinaesthetic learners like to have a practical experience by feeling the subject. Hence, they prefer experimenting rather than only reading about a topic.
Kinaesthetic learners should be encouraged to trace a diagram using tracing paper or mould clay to get a better understanding of an object. Using papers of different textures or sizes while writing notes can also help them retain information. These learners can also role-play with each other and dramatize critical concepts to understand better. Using bodily movements and cues can help kinaesthetic learners memorize formulae and definitions.
2. The Visual Style
Visual learning is one of the most common and effective learning styles that have been followed by ancient scholars and philosophers alike. Visual learners like to read books and are inclined to learn using pictures and audio-video mediums. Children with this learning style love art and are keen observers of the world around them. They tend to dig deeper when looking at a photograph, painting or illustration and are more attracted to brighter colours and symmetrical patterns.
Their proclivity towards art and craft make their imagination vivid and therefore they enjoy watching movies and videos on computers, televisions and in the cinemas. Watching visuals on a screen makes learning and retaining any presented information easier for such learners. Visual learners also remember minute details of their childhood which many of us may find hard to remember. They have a crisp memory and can easily remember names, people, and places which they have been visually exposed to.
Visual Learners are great organizers and tend to follow colours and shapes.
Make colour-coded organisers or a set of flow charts and diagrams in different colours for your child to grab their attention. Parents or teachers can also use maps, worksheets, charts, smartboards or projectors for teaching. It helps these learners stay interested in the subject matter and retain information well. Such learners should also be encouraged to use different coloured pens and highlighters while taking notes in order to stay organised. Parents can use cartoons or movie characters to help visual learners understand tough concepts.
3. The Auditory Style
Auditory learners, as the name suggests, use auditory tools to learn and retain information in the best possible way. Such learners are usually good listeners, like listening to rhymes and recorded stories and often show an aptitude for music – creating a tune or song all by themselves. They tend to understand instructions and directions better when given to them orally than in a written form and enjoy listening to the sound of the rain and recognising animals by their sounds.
Auditory learners are active listeners. They show a bent to recollect difficult dialogues easily and may repeat words or phrases heard recently which could be difficult for other children their age. They have a keen interest in learning new languages and are attracted to the sound of those languages. They tend to form small rhymes to find out a solution better and sometimes read aloud while learning or writing.
Auditory learners like better to transfer the knowledge they read into audio form.
So, they need to be encouraged to either read aloud and record themselves, or ask somebody else to read the knowledge to them. They can then go back and listen to any recordings later while doing revisions. Auditory learners prefer giving answers orally and must be allowed to try to do so while revising or summarising chapters. Parents can build help interest during a subject by simply talking about it to their children.
Using fun rhymes, tunes or songs for understanding concepts also makes learning easier and more enjoyable for such students. They can also use conversational technologies such as Siri, Google Assistant, etc. to hear the answers to questions about any topic they don’t understand.
Many educators believe that the training style of any child should be a mixture of these three styles and thus classes should be taught to children as a mix of all three, effectively giving all children an equally good chance of grasping the lesson and collectively learning as a gaggle. They believe that the content of a lesson should take priority over the style in which it is taught. On the contrary, psychologists believe that lessons learnt by children in their primary learning style help them achieve their learning. They state that children of a specific learning style develop interests similar that learning style.
As parents, it makes sense to encourage your children to learn in the way that best suits them. This would mean significant efforts from the parents’ side in the initial years when children cannot devise their own study techniques and schedules. However, starting the method early helps children realise their optimum learning techniques, preparing them for the tougher classes afterwards.
At times, children may not show a keen interest in any particular learning style. During such times, parents should be supportive, observant and friendly. They should ask their children about their interests or favourites to understand their learning style and devise a study plan accordingly. This will help in generating interest and curiosity within the children.
Some children do not have a definitive style for a long time. However, given a few years, they do become inclined towards one of the three primary learning styles which eventually helps the child stay organized.
It’s important to recognise learning patterns early and mould studies according to the pattern for children.Don’t limit your child to a single learning style. Some children may have a mixture of learning styles, so don’t expect them to completely identify with one style. Also, a well-rounded individual must be ready to acquire and utilize information in multiple ways, including through listening, looking, and doing.
Complement the child’s learning style with elements of the opposite major styles. Utilize flashcards with auditory learners and read aloud to visual learners. Help kinaesthetic learners recognize that not every learning activity can be hands-on.
Learning styles aren't set in stone, and may sometimes shift as a toddler develops and matures. So don’t assume that an auditory learner will always be strictly so; expose them to other learning styles right along the way.