Last week, we talked about seven different methods of homeschooling. Another factor in determining how to structure your homeschool is your child’s or children’s learning styles. We take information in through our senses, which then send that information to different parts of the brain to be processed and teach us about the world. The main senses we use to learn new information are the auditory, visual, and tactile/kinesthetic senses. Teaching in a manner that targets your child’s strongest sense for learning will improve their understanding and retention of information. Teaching across all three of these senses will also improve their learning as more of the brain will be used to learn information and connections will be made between these different parts of the brain. This will increase the brain’s ability to remember and recall information.
So let’s learn more about your child’s learning style(s):
Is your child an auditory learner?
Does your child like to listen to you read her books? Does he like to talk through information as a way to better understand it? Does she listen to music frequently? Is he distracted by sounds in the environment? If so, auditory learning is likely his/her strength. Auditory learners like a logical order to learning and prefer to learn about the details first and then connect them into a whole picture. They also like to use logic to solve existing problems in a methodical manner rather than creating their own problems to solve. Auditory learners like to have clear rules and like categorizing and sorting. Graphic organizers are a great tool when teaching.
Or does your child prefer visual learning?
Does your child like to read to himself and enjoy looking at pictures in books? Does she enjoy a less structured environment where she can be creative? Is he distracted by visual stimuli, such as pictures and posters on the wall? Does she prefer art activities? If yes, then your child is likely a visual learner. Visual learners like to learn about a whole concept and then break it down into details. They also like to create problems and then solve them or to see an end product and then figure out a path to get there rather than being given specific steps to take. When planning learning activities for these children, incorporate videos, diagrams, photos, maps, art, and demonstrations.
Or is your child a tactile/kinesthetic learner?
Does your child like to touch new items to learn about them? Is she often moving? Does he prefer activities that include hands on manipulatives or role play? Does she like doing experiments? Then your child is probably a tactile/kinesthetic learner. These children need to be able to move during learning and need frequent breaks during sedentary tasks where they can get up and move. Incorporating hands on learning activities is important.
So have you easily identified which group(s) your children fit into or are you sitting there scratching your head? My Little Fish is definitely a tactile/kinesthetic learner. He always has to touch things to learn about them wherever we go and I can’t imagine how many times he has heard us say “stop touching that” or “don’t touch that”. He also loves to reenact activities we have done. If we have gone to a new store to shop, he will come home and set up that store. When we were having some construction done on our house, he put on a tool belt and acted out what he saw the workers doing.
Then there’s Big Fish….I really don’t know what group he fits into. He is likely an auditory learning as some of his favorite parts of the school day are when I read out loud to the boys or verbally teach material. He also loves listening to music and is distracted by noises and oh my goodness, does this boy like to talk. However, I wouldn’t say he solves problems in a methodical, logical way and he likes to move a lot as well and draw, color, and look at pictures. If you are not sure what your child’s learning style is then I would suggest incorporating all three types of learning activities and when something works, go with it!
To further help you to determine your child’s learning style, take this QUIZ from scholastic.
For further learning, check out Judy Willis’ book, How Your Child Learns Best. Note in this book, she combines the visual learners and the tactile/kinesthetic learners into one group due to commonalities between these two learning styles.
Check out one of our activities that targets all three learning styles, our Mega Animal Sorting Mats.