I swear I could hear the thundering sound of the second hand as it made each agonizing move while I watched my daughter look at her homework sheet and then consult the notes I’d made as I explained how to solve a particular type of math problem. All I could think of was the old saying about teaching a pig to sing. It frustrates you and annoys the pig.
As parents we are constantly trying to find the best ways to help. I’m sure that I’m not the only parent who spends time every night answering questions my daughter has from her classes. This often causes problems for all of those involved. You try to explain the procedure for finding the solution in a way that makes sense to you, but your student doesn’t get it.
Many parents find themselves trying to figure out what they’re doing wrong. The answer is really simple; you’re not doing anything wrong. Your child most likely prefers a different way of learning than you do.
This only amplifies the anxiety that we all feel. For the students, it’s the struggles of classes and worrying about their grades. And for the parents, well, we end up worrying about our children and wondering why we can’t help them.
For a student to be successful, they need to learn using their optimum learning style. The remainder of this post will take a look at the various learning styles, giving some examples of how to identify the style that works best for your child along with some basic tips on how to employ them. The infographic below gives a quick overview.
There are 7 different learning styles that I’m going to explore: visual, auditory/musical, verbal, logical/mathematic, kinesthetic,intrapersonal and interpersonal. Most of us tend to believe that we only have one style, the reality however, is that we are all a mixture of these. The trick is identifying which ones work best for us and then focusing on those.
The visual learner learns by watching. It could be observing a demonstration in class or watching a movie or documentary. They see the world in pictures. The key is for them to be able to see what’s happening.
For the visual learner, they are going to find it easier if they transcribe class notes into some kind of pictorial representation such as mindmaps or infographics. They may also want to experiment with the use of different colors and the use of spatial layouts to help.
An auditory learner may be one of the easiest styles to identify. These are the students that are constantly humming and singing to themselves. They learn best by hearing the information. In class, they likely sit quietly and take few notes, relying instead on their ability to listen and commit the sounds to memory.
Often a auditory learner finds it easiest to remember material by putting it to music and creating a song around it. Other possibilities include using mnemonics or creating acrostics using rhymes.
Verbal learners rely on the use of words, both in spoken and written formats, for the dissemination of information.
These are the copious note takers who write down everything. For extra help, they are going to find it best to rewrite notes in their own words. They may also benefit from writing out a script and then recording it on their own device. The upside of this technique is the recording gives them a great tool for review.
These are the people who the new fad of fidget spinners are targeted at. A kinesthetic learner needs to be moving. This movement may come in the form of getting up and acting out a part in a skit, doing a lab or doing something that keeps them moving.
Getting a learner of this type moving in some way is the key here. Something that must not be forgotten however is that drawing a picture is a form of movement, so it offers an easy add on. Other options that work well for a kinesthetic learner are creating a simple skit or interpretive dance that they can perform while thinking about the topic. Also, the current fidget spinners and activity cubes that are available can be used to provide the needed sensations.
The logical learner focuses on the why of the situation and looks for systems and reasoning behind everything. Often times, they are focused on the bigger picture and rely on logic for their actions.
Activities that will help this type of learner include creating lists from key points of lecture notes, finding associations between relevant systems and forming procedures for problem solving.
These are students who love to work alone and do self study. A student who has a very high interpersonal drive may even find it very hard to work with others, or that being around others is extremely tiring to them.
Finding personal areas of interest within a topic will help this student grow, especially if it aligns with their personal beliefs and values. It is important for the intrapersonal learner to visualize how how they want to be seen socially as this provides a driving force.
These students like working in groups. They are the extroverts, and need others to really make learning complete.
For these students, it is going to be important to find others to study with. Sharing key observations, visualizations and discussions are some of the easiest ways to work within a group setting. Role playing might prove to be helpful in small group or one-on-one settings.
As stated previously, we are often a mixture of several of these styles. Therefore, it is imperative for teachers and tutors to be aware of the best mixture for the students, not just what they themselves (teacher/tutor) rely on. By tailoring instruction to cover as many of these styles as possible, we educators (and parents) can help ensure our students’ success.