When I was a child and going through the school system in New Zealand it wasn’t a great experience. Like many children going through the school system I found the learning aspect very difficult and couldn’t quite seem to keep up with the other children in my class. That was with everything except maths. I never knew anything at this stage about the different ways to learn.
As I went through my schooling years in primary school and then into high school my results were very much below average and found myself not being able to go to university as an option because my grades were so bad. I grew up thinking I was stupid with very little prospects because of my academic results.
Skip forward into my early thirties where I got my second wind of learning. I studied towards a management diploma and I remember the light bub moment when we did the communications module and heard for the first time about a concept of learning styles.
I can’t remember her name but the trainer had taken one of those microfiber cloths as wiped the mist of confusion from my eyes and I could see and understand for the first time.
She spoke of the different learning styles people have and how each person is individual in how they learn. She even had a test that we all did to work out our dominant learning styles.
You remember those tests when in school where the teacher reads a story and then you have to answer questions based on what she said. I would fail these miserably. I find out after the learning styles test that I am very low at learning aurally or listening . I tried at another stage of life to learn German via audio tapes. Another big mistake. What I did learn was my dominant learning style which was kinesthetic (look that one up) and secondly was visual. That means that for me to learn I need to be doing the task or I need to draw a picture to help me learn and understand something.
Times have not changed too much. Sadly I spoke to a childcare educator just last week who was responsible for teaching Kindergarten children and they have never heard of anything call learning styles.
There are currently seven “Learning Styles“:
- Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
Children will most likely not possess one style exclusively but you may be able to see patterns in their learning preferences. For example, a child who is visual may also be a very social and verbal learner and prefers to learn especially difficult topics using their primary skills.
Understanding how children learns is perhaps one of the most important tasks a parent can undergo. Another is learning how to provide opportunities for learning through the use of these identified learning preferences.
Teachers often use their preferred learning style as their main mode of teaching and if students do not share those same preferences then learning can be very difficult and frustrating.
As an Early Childhood Education it was important for me to understand those differences in order to maximize my students’ learning potential. It is just as important for all parents and teachers to do the same. Watch your children. Listen to what they want and their interests. Compare the differences between how they learn Aurally and Visually as well as the other styles outlined above. Compare how they interact with others while learning in a group or by themselves. Each observation will bring you closer to understanding their special gifts and will reveal to you more effective ways to teach them using their preferred learning styles.
No child is exclusively one style or another and most utilise a variety of modalities when learning. It is important to expand their abilities to use as many learning styles as possible, helping them to succeed in a world where how one learns often means nothing and only the ability to learn has value.
If you do find your child struggling to learn check out their learning styles.
This is a great reference for further investigation: Learning Style Tests and
Child Care Early Learning Gympie