Jordan struggles academically in school and is labeled “learning disabled.” Tracey has a really hard time focusing on her assignments and is labeled “attention deficit disorder.” What would we do if instead of quickly labeling, we could recognize when each student has a different style of learning?
Jorden is a visual learner who learns best with pictures, mind maps and diagrams. Tracey is a kinesthetic learner who learns best by doing. Learning is a very personal experience and often hard to define. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines learning as “knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study.” However there are many more definitions for learning. On the eLearning Coach website, I found an article that names over 10 definitions of learning.
In my last article I wrote about the VARK (Visual, Aural, Reading, and Kinesthetic) learning styles and how you can determine your teen’s learning style. Today, I want to share with you practical information on your teen’s learning style that can be used to help with homework and exams. The examples below are from the book Teaching and Learning Styles, VARK Strategies by Neil Fleming.
Alex has a big end-of-the-quarter final and wants to do well. What is the best way for Alex to study for the test?
If Alex is a Visual Learner, he would learn best through diagrams and pictures. Some suggestions on how to study would be to:
- Change notes to pictures
- Draw pictures for ideas
- Create a mind map of the information
- Look at the textbook pictures and describe to another person
If Alex is an Aural and Oral Learner, she would learn best through hearing and speaking. Some suggestions on how to study would be to:
- Read her notes out loud. Better yet, record her reading out loud and have her listen back to the recording.
- Talk about what she learned.
- Create songs or put words to music to remember
- Recopy notes from a classmate or teacher, since her notes would be incomplete due to listening to the information and not writing the notes.
If Alex is a Reading Learner, he would learn best through reading and writing. Some suggestions on how to study would be to:
- Write out the words and phrases over and over.
- Read notes silently to himself.
- Turn pictures and diagrams into words.
- Write notes in list or outline form.
If Alex is a Kinesthetic Learner, she learns best by doing. Some suggestions on how to study would be to:
- Help her recall information from experiments, field trips or projects.
- Relate the notes to concrete, real life experiences.
- Use pictures and photographs to illustrate ideas.
- Use plenty of examples in the notes.
Many times a visual or kinesthetic learner will be viewed in school as “disabled” because a smaller portion of academic subjects are taught through using visual or kinesthetic methods than the traditional reading/ writing approach. A survey of teachers showed their personal, predominant learning style was reading. However, in a survey of students the predominant learning style was kinesthetic. Academics may be hard for the kinesthetic learner because they need to be grounded in reality and concrete examples.
A learning style is not set in stone. As children mature, their learning style may change over time or they may take on another learning style. Forty percent of the students taking the VARK survey had one learning style that was predominate; however, 60% had multiple learning styles. Learning styles can help both teachers and parents to create a more personalized learning experience for any child. The four styles of learning can be a gateway into better understanding and to unleashing your child’s brilliance.