Every child has the ability to learn, we only need to understand how they learn best. Just like children develop and attain milestones at their own pace and perceive the world differently, they also learn in their own unique way. It is important to understand each child’s learning style, especially for parents and teachers to know how their child learns best.
Learning style refers to different ways we learn, absorb and retain information from the environment. By observing a child’s strengths and preferences, we can gauge their learning style and use these observations to foster their strengths and also identify and help them overcome their challenges. Parents intuitively know what activities their child enjoys more than others. One can spend all day playing with slime, while the other loves listening to stories. Some children can’t get enough outdoor time while others are happy reading a book any chance they get. Even if we haven’t realised it yet, we already know our child’s learning style.
As Gardener suggests in his theory of multiple intelligence, there can be many learning styles, especially as children grow older. We also need to note that children needn’t fit only into one category and might show a preference for more than one learning style or switch learning styles as they grow older. However, in early childhood development, there are 4 learning styles that are generally of focus.
Children who are auditory learners, learn through listening and auditory input. These are kids who thrive when presented with information verbally or by participating in group discussions and interaction with others. Do you have a kid who prefers to talk things through to understand concepts or learn new material? One who enjoys listening to stories and can remember incidents you narrated days ago. These are kids who need to say and read aloud to understand what they are learning. They’ll do great with narrations and lectures as they get older. Perhaps they’ll take to audiobooks too. Being sensitive to auditory input also means too much of it can be distracting. They might prefer to learn in a quiet room than outdoors where there might be a lot of extra sounds.
These are children who learn as the term suggests, visually, through seeing and visual stimuli. These are kids who’ll pay attention to the body language, visual cues, facial expressions of people around them. If you have a kid who loves their picture books, delights in watching videos, loves watching and learning numbers, colours, patterns and graphics, you have a visual learner on your hands. You’ll find them completely engrossed watching demonstrations, absorbing every minute detail they see. They’re the kids who say” show me” “I want to see that” when they sense something interesting and learn through keenly observing others. They’ll love using paints and colours. In older children, you are likely to see them taking down notes, making lists, drawing diagrams to simplify material and doodling probably is their best friend. Being sensitive to visual stimuli can also mean they can be easily distracted when there are too many visual stimuli around them. A non-cluttered space, with minimal sights and patterns, can work better for them.
These children learn through actually doing things and through movement. We could roughly term this learning as being “hands-on learners. Kinesthetic learners are more inclined to learn through physical activity and by physical exploration. A kid who loves to hold and feel objects and loves to tear down a toy to understand all about it, the one who wants to build with blocks is a kinesthetic learner. They’ll delight in moulding and manipulating material, moving around shapes and pieces to make patterns. These are kids who are constantly on the move, so staying put at a work desk might not appeal to them. They might do better seated on the floor, sitting on a bean bag or a bouncy ball. Yes, even when they have to work on something.
While Kinesthetic learners learn through movement and doing things, children who are tactile learners learn through touch and tactile stimuli. Sometimes, these two learning styles overlap and are often considered as one group. Tactile learners want to touch and feel stimuli and use their hands. You’ll often find them drawing and doodling which can also help them learn better. These are kids who enjoy playing with textures, are drawn to touch and feel books and will need sensory stimulation more than movement like kinesthetic learners do
You don’t need a test to determine your child’s learning style but carefully observing your child can give you a lot of information about their learning style. In all probability, you already know what activities your child enjoys the most. Understanding how they process information and the preferences they show, allows you to help them more
A few things that can help you understand their learning style is by observing
All children, irrespective of their pace of development, can learn. Even if your child has developmental delays, they can process and learn information better, when you identify their learning style and present material accordingly. You might have noticed that your child enjoys making shapes in playdough or might pick up songs very quickly or enjoy time on the swing and slide. Use this information to teach them concepts.
Understanding your child’s learning style can have a significant impact on their learning. It can make the experience more simplified for your child. In many classrooms, teachers are now better equipped to accommodate different learning styles so learning can be enjoyable for all children. It is important to note that a learning style only shows a preference, it doesn’t mean your child won’t learn through other styles. It simply shows a preference for one medium over the other.
If you have concerns over your child’s learning or see your child struggling to understand concepts, reach out to our specialists at Tactopus. We are here to help.