Learning styles that help your child learn better

Now is the time when most parents are at least knee deep in thoughts of sending their kids back to school. Or in some cases, thinking about it for the first time.

Or maybe your child is not old enough to go to school yet. However, knowing about the different learning styles will go a long way in helping your child become a life long learner.

One thing that I can tell you from my teaching experience is that it is impossible for a teacher to adjust his/her teaching style to suit every child. Teachers have their hands full already trying to meet the demands of the curriculum, principals, parents and their students.

So what do we do as parents? Well, there is a more effective way than to try and change the whole school system. To a degree, it can be argued that children need to learn to adjust themselves to various environments and teaching styles.

Yet, if completely left on their own from the beginning, they could become one of the unlucky students that get left behind because they could not 'keep up'. And I have seen this all too often. It is most unfortunate because when talking to them, you know that they are intelligent students who just 'didn't get it' from that teacher's style.

Simply put, everyone learns differently. You might have heard of it before, but what does it really mean?

In broad terms, there are visual learners, auditory learners and kinesthetic learners.

Visual learners learn best with the use of their eyes. These are the learners that need to 'see' something in order to register it in their brain, remember it and to comprehend it.

Auditory learners are those who learn with their ears. They need to 'hear' something in order to register it, remember it and to comprehend it.

Kinesthetic learners are those who learn with their bodies. They need to 'feel' something in order to register it, remember it and to comprehend it.

It is important to remember that everyone is a mix of these different learning types, but one or possibly two dominant styles. It is highly unlikely that a child be only a visual learner since that would imply that they cannot learn by any other means.

Try to keep an eye out for your child's dominant learning type. Visual, auditory or kinesthetic? Do they learn best by looking at something, hearing something or by doing/feeling something?

Before you rule out a learning type, consider this. When reading a book together, if your child has a hard time focusing on the book with his/her eyes, it doesn't automatically mean that he/she isn't a visual learner.

It could just mean that he/she is trying to take it too much all at once with his/her eyes (being very visual). You might try helping him/her focus on a particular part of the page with a finger or other visual cues.

Experiment with your child and see if you can find out their learning styles. Take your time. By the way, did you notice that I said "see if you can find out...."?

What kind of learner am I? Answer is visual.

This is another way to find out someone's learning style. Listen to their selection of words and expressions carefully. Over a period of time, their choice of expressions in words will reveal their dominant learning styles.

"Ok, I SEE it now."
"That LOOKS about right."
"Don't you SEE what's missing?"

"I HEAR you."
"Ah, that just CLICKED."
"Are you LISTENING to what I'm SAYING?"

"That's FEELS right."
"I don't GET it."
"That's a LOAD off of my mind."

We will discuss strategies to dealing with the different learning styles in the next issue. Till then, have fun with your child and try to discover his/her learning styles.

With that knowledge, you can help learning become a much more enjoyable experience.