In the early 1980s, developmental psychologist and educational researcher Howard Gardner verified that different children learn in different ways. He observed that children learn better in school when their individual learning styles are recognized and supported. He outlined seven different learning styles: auditory, visual, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic and logical-mathematical. Out of these 7 styles, parents and educators mostly concentrate to identify auditory, visual, and kinesthetic styles in kids. Knowing learning style helps to nurture academic growth in children, as well as choose after-school activities, and extracurricular classes. Here’s a peek into the three different learning styles.
Children who are auditory learners learn better by hearing stuff. They love music and can remember the words to songs they hear. If they don’t understand something, will often say, “Tell me again.” Auditory learners like to read out loud, rather than silently, even when they’re alone. They love to listen to stories rather than read it by themselves. They understand a concept better when it’s explained rather than when they’re given a reading assignment.
Children who are visual learners show an affinity for books and reading. As kids they love picture books, bright colors, toys and later love to learn from videos, demonstrations and classroom handouts. They like to draw and paint. Once they’ve read a story, they can retell it down to the smallest detail. They often say, “Show me,” when they’re trying to learn something new and like to see someone else perform a task before they try it themselves. These learners perform better when taught through role playing, narratives, charts, flash cards, or story telling.
Children who are kinesthetic learner love making building sets, model kits and interactive displays. If offered a choice in art class, they’ll choose modeling clay over pencils or paint. From an early age, they’ll reach for books that encourage interaction—pop-ups, little doors that open and close or books with textures that can be touched or petted. These learners usually have a strong sense of balance, and they learn best by touching or doing things themselves. So they are often termed as called ‘do-ers’.
Then there are learners who perform and understand better by working in groups (Interpersonal or social learners), studing alone (Intrapersonal or solitary learners), learns through speech and writing (Linguistic or verbal learners), through logic and reasoning behind a topic (Logical learner).
Research shows us that each learning style uses different parts of the brain. And that, we have a mix of learning styles. While everyone learns individually in a variety of ways, we all — children and adults — do it best when using particular senses and ways of exploring the world.
Parents and care givers nurture babies and toddlers with different type of sensory inputs like lullabies and rhymes, colourful toys, blocks, expose them to the environment. Children get excited to see birds, and animals, trees around. All these are play a great role in the developmental milestones. Children remember things when they are repeatedly exposed to various stuffs around them. So, we can say that the leaning styles are mapped by the brain, but learning experiences do help in shaping or nurturing the learning styles?
So the first step in learning anything is the exposure, then its the interest level, and finally its the fruit of stong will and perseverance. If a child has good map of kinesthetics but is never exposed to a sport, do you think this trait will show up as a dormant one? I guess, not. And that’s why opportunities are important. And that’s where parents and educators can play a big role.
Here are our 5 tips to nurture the learning style in kids:
1. Identify the learning style:
Even at a very early age, observational clues can indicate a likely learning style. Once you identify whether your child learns primarily by looking, listening, or doing, you can help shape his or her educational experience. This can be a very important exercise while choosing the school curriculum also. Some schools focus more on lecture based learning, some orient kids to hands-on interactive learning. Same holds true in case of chosing extracurricular activities.
2. Consider your child’s interests:
A child’s primary learning style is normally reflected in his or her interests. Auditory learners may be especially musical and show an aptitude for playing instruments or singing. They are good listeners and often have verbal strengths. They may be able to remember all the words to numerous songs, while possibly struggling to remember what they just read in a book. A visual learner may have inclination towards painting, kinesthetic learner towards sports, playing musical instruments etc.
3. Incoorporate strategies based on learning style in day-to-day activities:
Auditory learners love to talk. They are also strong listeners — they remember information that they’ve heard before. If your child is an auditory learner, then conversations that include question/answer sessions, quiz, jingles etc may help him/her retain information. For visual learners, you can together watch educational videos that complement what she’s learning in class. Your child may also benefit from historical films, biopics, and other movies that relate to material from school. Also, posters, charts, and color-coded highlighting can also be helpful when he/she’s studying. For a kinesthetic learner, you may try break up long lessons into smaller chunks, change teaching locations, and letting them move around while learning things. Hands-on activities, tactile materials, and movemet helps these children retain informaion best.
4. Talk to teachers and people who interact with your child regularly:
Every child is unique. They have different likes and, interests. No matter how active you are as a parent or how closely you observe your own child, sometimes other people will pick up on tendencies and indications that you miss. A grandparent, day-care provider, teacher or pediatrician may provide keen insights into your child’s learning tendencies.
5.Practice makes perfect:
One important life skill that we can instill to children is to teach them to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. They need to be told stories about perseverance, and goal setting. Whatever is the learning style, only practice makes a learning perfect.
Nearly every child has a dominant learning style that doesn’t mean they can’t learn in other ways. Learning styles also may change as time progresses. Thus, unless there is a concern about a potential learning disability or other issue, a child’s learning style is not something that typically needs to be professionally diagnosed.