When parents and teachers talk about learning styles they’re talking about how children learn or what their preferred method of receiving information is. Most children fall into one of three learning styles or a combination.
The Three Learning Styles
- Visual Learners. Visual learners prefer to spend time looking at pictures, graphics, and visual material with bright colors that are visually stimulating. They learn best through visual presentations.
- Auditory Learners. Auditory learners prefer to listen to music, audio tapes, audio books, and to people reading aloud or talking. They learn best through discussions and receiving verbal information.
- Tactile or Kinesthetic Learners. Tactile learners prefer to move around, touch things, and talk. They have difficulty sitting still and learn best through active, hands-on activities.
Visual learners learn through seeing and visualizing images. They look at words on a page, the person who is speaking, slides of a PowerPoint lecture, posters on a wall, or any other visual aid when learning. When processing information, they see pictures in their minds. Even if it is a word, they visualize an image of the word.
Visual learners like to write notes so they have a visual presentation of what they’ve been taught. By writing down this information they are able to reinforce what they’ve been presented in a visual form.
Here are some ways to reinforce learning with visual learners:
- Place visual aids on walls: charts, displays, illustrations, maps, mobiles, dioramas, etc.
- Use colorful and illustrated books or picture books
- Incorporate graphics, posters, or colorful pictures with lesson plans
- Incorporate colorful flash cards into all subjects especially spelling, vocabulary, and grammar
- Use flow charts, pie charts, and other diagrams to illustrate mathematical and scientific concepts
- Make eye contact when explaining lessons or concepts
- Encourage note-taking, illustrating, or diagramming of topics
- Watch educational videos on topics you study (documentaries)
- Assign writing and illustrating stories as part of topics studied
- Provide a quiet area of the house for studying, free of distractions
Auditory learners learn through hearing. They read information and textbooks, but they don’t fully grasp what they’ve read until they’ve heard someone read it aloud or summarize it in their own words. The tone, rhythm, and inflection of the person’s voice is important to the learner’s comprehension. When recalling information, auditory learners hear the speaker in their mind as they replay the tone and rhythm of the voice as it stresses one point and then another. The way the speaker conveys the message helps the auditory learner grasp the important facts and details from the information.
Here are some ways to reinforce learning with auditory learners:
- Read material aloud
- Use rhythm and inflection when reading and talking
- Present material in an interesting storytelling format
- Tape record lessons for playing and replaying
- Encourage reading books aloud for information
- Participate in lively debates and discussions on subject matter
- Listen to audio books on subjects studied
- Create musical presentations of subjects studied
- Assign speeches and verbal presentations as part of homework
- Turn off the television and radio and limit distractions
Tactile learners learn through touching and moving. Encourage lots of movement and hands-on activities to help them grasp concepts. They process information through physical sensations and they learn best when participating in activities and actively using fine-motor and gross-motor skills.
Where visual learners are distracted from learning by noise or commotion, tactile learners are distracted when they are in a quiet area or forced to sit for long periods of time. In order to learn, the tactile learner must keep moving, exploring, and experimenting.
Here are some ways to reinforce learning with tactile learners:
- Encourage movement and touch for learning
- Provide numerous manipulatives for hands-on learning
- Incorporate games, construction sets, geo-boards, and cuisenaire rods into lessons
- Invest in lap equipment for reinforcing scientific and mathematical concepts
- Perform dramatic plays to bring social studies and literature to life
- Create colorful, textured cards for spelling, vocabulary, and grammar
- Read or study while swaying to and fro or while keeping time tapping feet
- Create lesson plans choreographed to dance music
- Assign use of computers and electronics
- Set aside brief time slots for sit down studying
- Play classical music during study times
- Take frequent field trips related to subjects studied