Aug 012013

Learning About Learning Styles and Strategies for Teaching is Important for Your Child’s Success

There are four main learning styles and strategies according to the most popular learning styles model. The learning styles are auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic. Your child will learn best through one or more of these learning channels. You can help your child become a successful learner by teaching him through his primary learning style(s).

When you see programs say they are “Multi-sensory”, that means the instruction utilizes all of the learning styles and strategies for teaching in each lesson. Also, Multisensory teaching is of benefit to all children.

Auditory learning activities include reading, listening, hearing, etc. These are the learning styles and strategies used for teaching used in a typical school classroom.

At first you may confused because you may think, as I initially did, that reading is solely a visual activity. Reading is an auditory activity because it involves the language center of the brain and language processing skills. They are both auditory in nature. When you read, you “hear” the words.

If you suspect your child might have dyslexia, you should know our neuropsychologist told us “Not all visual learners have dyslexia, but children with dyslexia are visual learners.” Thus, a child with dyslexia will do better with visual teaching tools rather than learning through lecture, reading, and writing. SO, if your child has dyslexia, considering his learning styles and strategies for teaching him will be important for learning.

Children with dyslexia take in information through watching – videos, movies, plays, demonstrations, etc. They pick up TONS of information from their daily environment. Because of their visual learning style, children with dyslexia often enter school as BRIGHT, gifted kids, eager learners, but soon get labeled otherwise because they are now being taught through their weakest learning path. If you have a child who has “true dyslexia”, then you will want to seek out instruction that primarily teaches towards the visual learning style. Most children have a primary learning style, and a secondary style. Instruction will be most effective if it includes all learning channels, but must include the child’s primary learning style if it is going to be effective instruction.

Manipulatives are excellent for kids with a kinesthetic learning style, tactile learning style, and visual learners. The manipulatives are visual, hands-on and moving. They would not be as effective for a child with visual processing difficulties though. If your child has any of these learning styles and strategies for teaching with manipulatives is something you can do, go for it! They will probably help your child learn more easily.

A child with visual processing problems would learn more effectively from the auditory and kinesthetic learning channels. For children with auditory processing problems, the visual and kinesthetic channels are most critical for content learning. A child with significantly impaired movement might find kinesthetic learning activitiess the most difficult to use.

The key is to know what learning styles and strategies for teaching are most useful to your child. Then teach towards your child’s preferred learning styles.

Most children can learn to some degree through each of the channels.  If your child is taught through all channels, he will have maximized learning because what your child doesn’t get from his main learning style, he may get from another.

Thus, the most effective instructional method for teaching *ALL* children is multi-sensory instruction.  If you’d like to know more about developing multi-sensory lessons for your child, please visit our Free Multisensory Instruction Training.

Whatever your child’s learning styles and strategies for teaching you use, computer software can serve most children well. Using computers for educational practice drills is proven by research to be an effective reinforcement to learning.

Many companies are making learning fun, interactive, both visual and auditory, and providing robust computer solutions for learning. Using computer software can be an excellent way for children with an auditory or visual learning style to learn any topic. My main source for Educational Software is Amazon. They have a huge variety of programs available, including educational apps, so you’re likely to be able to find some program that meets your needs in Amazon’s Educational Software section.

Additionally, you might want to consider learning posters as a way to provide good visuals for your child. Good colorful posters of processes, cycles, categories, etc. can be worth a thousand words to a visual learner. The Learning Abled Kids Educational Posters for Learning store has a huge collection of educational posters. You can check out the variety at our educational poster store.

The easiest online tools to use in determining learning styles are Abiator’s Online Learning Styles Test 1 and Test 2. I LOVE these tests because the questions are relatively easy to answer, the scoring is automatic, and the results also give tips for the specific learning style. The tips are great for helping you teach your child.

Another tool I like is the Memletics Learning Style Inventory which asks a series of questions, then scores the results, and indicates your dominant and secondary styles. This inventory uses seven learning styles: Visual, Aural, Verbal, Physical, Logical, Social, and a Solitary learning style. While the styles vary from the widely accepted four styles, this inventory’s additional segmentation provides a more in depth profile.

A simple online version is the Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic tool developed specifically for assessing learning styles in high school students. You can utilize the questionaire, including the scoring guide, at this link for the VARK Questionaire for Younger People. VARK also has other tools for assessing learning styles that you may find helpful.

Determine your child’s learning style, then teach towards your child’s specific learning style strengths. The table below provides you with ideas for teaching to each of the primary learning styles. Many times a child will have overlapping styles and many of the activities apply to more than one learning style.

Read Aloud Books
Panel Discussions
Informal Discussions
Lectures & Speeches
Books on Tape
Radio Broadcasts
Music & Songs
Movies & Videos
Maps, Charts, Graphs
Field Trips
Computer Software
Models & Dioramas
Math Manipulatives
Letter Tiles, Scrabble
Computer Software
Arts & Crafts
Hands-On practice
Field Trips
Arts & Crafts
Clay modeling
Math Manipulatives
Computer Software