Saturday, January 23, 2010

Learning Styles

There are four main learning styles.. auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic. Your child will learn best through one or more of these learning channels, and you can help him become a successful learner by teaching the child through his primary learning style(s). When you see programs say they are "Multi-sensory", this means the instruction utilizes all, or most, of these channels in each lesson, and multisensory teaching is of benefit to all children.

Auditory activities include reading, listening, hearing, etc. These are channels 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 which are 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 all children with dyslexia are visual learners." Thus, the child with dyslexia will do better with visual teaching tools rather than learning through lecture, reading, and writing. 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 and soon get labeled otherwise because they are now being taught through their weakest channel. If you have a child who has "true dyslexia", then you will want to seek out instruction that uses primarily the visual channel. Most children have a primary learning style, and a secondary style, so instruction will be most effective if it includes all learning channels.

Manipulatives are excellent for kinesthetic and visual learners, since the manipulatives are both visual and moving. They would not be as effective for a child with visual processing problems. 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 channels the most difficult to use. The key is to know what channel is most useful to your child and teach towards that learning style. Most children can learn through all channels and if they are taught through all channels they will have maximized learning because what they don't get from their main channel, they 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 style, computer software can serve most children well. More and more 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 most children to learn any topic. My main source for academic based software is the Academic Superstore. This company focuses on academic software and offers substantial discounts, making it a great place for homeschoolers or families to acquire high quality programs at a good price.

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. All Posters has a huge collection of learning posters and you can see some of them at our 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 paper-based version, provided as a PDF file, is the Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic tool developed specifically for assessing learning styles in high school students. You can download 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 Alouds, Debates, Panel, Discussions, Informal, Discussions, Interviews, Lectures & Speeches, Books on Tape, Text-to-Speech, Plays, Radio, Broadcasts, Music & Songs

Movies & Videos, Television, Pictures, Posters, Murals, Maps, Charts, Graphs, Field Trips, Computer , Software, Demonstrationa, Dramatizations, Experiments

Games, Models & Diaramas, Math, Manipulatives, Letter Tiles, Scrabble, Computer, Software, Arts & Crafts, Hands-On practice, Experiments, Field Trips

Arts & Crafts, Clay modeling, Gardening, Dress-Up, Math,
Manipulatives, Painting, Sewing, Highlighting, Computer, Software

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