We know that children learn and grow at different rates, but they also have different learning styles as well. Figuring out which methods of learning your child prefers is your best tool for helping her develop to her highest potential. The three basic learning styles are: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile.
Circle of Moms member Jen P. has noticed that her three kids could not be more different. One is a visual learner, one is auditory, and one is kinesthetic/tactile. How to juggle all three so that no one is disadvantaged? The good news is that very few kids fall exclusively into one category; almost all kids prefer a combination of different learning methods.
How can you tell what kind of learner your child is? And how can you use this information in practical ways to help him or her learn?
The visual learner is attracted to language, written or spoken, that is highly imagistic in nature. Does your child prefer stories she can visualize? Does she like to see you model a behavior, like teeth-brushing, or putting together a puzzle, before she tries it herself? Does she often say, "Show me?" Does she like to watch others? If so, you may have a primarily visual learner on your hands.
Auditory learners tend to verbalize what they are trying to learn. They repeat instructions, read aloud, and memorize by saying words out loud. Does your child not need to sit in the front row at story time? That's likely because she's listening, and doesn't need the visual component to enjoy the story. Does she hum or sing to herself? That's another sign that the auditory realm is important to her.
The kinesthetic/tactile learner learns best by doing. She prefers hands-on experience to watching someone else perform a task or being told how to do something. She often gestures with her hands as she talks, and she enjoys taking things apart and putting them back together.
Playing to Your Child's Strengths
Once you've determined which of these three kinds of learning is primary for your child, how do you go about tailoring learning activities to play to her strengths?
Teaching a Visual Learner
Visual learners tend to respond well to photos, drawings, and illustrations, and often prefer that they not be accompanied by sound. It's helpful to ask a visual child to close his eyes and recollect something he saw — this is not only a way of testing his visual prowess, but also a way of encouraging him to use this skill for recall. Flash cards, iPhone apps that are visually driven but not too noisy, and colored pens or markers for identifying different kinds of information are some tools that will play to your child's strengths. Visual learners are often labeled as "day-dreamers," but remember this does not indicate that he isn't listening. He's taking in information by visualizing.
Teaching an Auditory Learner
Auditory learners like to hear stories read to them, even if they are themselves strong readers. This kind of learner responds well to the spoken word, so try to find compelling books on CD, trivia games that can be played aloud, and a variety of music that will stimulate the senses. Ask your child to recreate a story you've just read to her, and tape her so that she can hear herself later. Or let her tell you a story while you write or type it out, which will help her remember the information.
Teaching an Kinesthetic/tactile Learner
Kinesthetic/tactile learners love to mimic others, so gravitate towards learning resources that involve demonstration. The demonstrator could be a DVD with a human or animated character, or you! The important thing is to get your child moving by trying to demonstrate what she's learned. Art projects, charades, and nature walks are all good choices for kids who don't respond to physically passive learning.
And if your child is a hybrid learner, combine these suggestions to see what works best for you. Be sure not to eliminate lessons or tasks that are more conducive to the other styles. This is merely a tool for playing to your children's learning strengths.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.