In general, education experts agree that there are four main types of learners: visual, auditory, read/write and kinesthetic. Which type of learner is your child?
Knowing this will help you to determine which teaching styles will be more effective. Of course, if you're teaching multiple students who each may have a different learning style, you'll have to remain flexible. The good news is that even when students encounter teaching styles that don't precisely square with their preferred learning style, they still derive benefit from the experience.
Why Do Learning Styles Matter?
Each individual experiences the world in their own unique way. Part of these unique experiences is the way in which people perceive and process new information. While one person may prefer to see images, another feels that they learn better when reading text. Still, other people prefer to hear a lecture while another group needs to move around as they learn.
Although there is recent scientific evidence that suggests that learning styles may not be as critical to academic success as previously believed, there is little doubt that when information is presented in a manner that we find attractive, compelling and interesting, we tend to pay better attention and retain more of the information.
Essentially, this is the goal of any teacher. Motivating a child to want to learn, to improve their mind, to sharpen their critical-thinking skills and to apply their best effort are the educator's highest aims. If your students show a clear preference for a certain learning method, then it's wise to accommodate that preference.
What Are the Different Learning Styles?
Most experts agree on four groups of learning styles. These groups may be subdivided into smaller categories or some people may be a blend of two or three of these styles. Nonetheless, most students show obvious signs of a preference for one of the four learning styles.
Let's take a closer look so that you can identify your students' learning styles.
1. Visual Learners
Visual learners love to experience the world through their sense of sight. When they are presented with images, videos, plays, diagrams, maps, graphs and drawings, they soak up information like sponges.
Here are some characteristics that are common for visual learners:
- Vivid imagination
- Intuitive problem-solving
- Excellent at reading body language and facial expressions
- Good at identifying patterns
- Quick to notice new things
- Highly organized perfectionists
Of course, not every visual learner will display these traits to a noticeable degree. However, if your child prefers to watch videos, use visual learning tools like flashcards, is distracted by noises or needs to visualize words before spelling them, then it's likely that she's a visual learner.
How to Help a Visual Learner
Visual learners love to work in a structured environment that is organized and well-planned. Visual elements such as color, brightness and contrast are of constant interest. These cues can be used to enhance the success of your visual learner.
For instance, you may want to provide a visual learner with opportunities to draw their work or express it in other creative ways instead of writing it. Employ bright colors to improve the imprint of the information on your child's mind, and use concept maps to help your student better understand complex systems.
Visual learners thrive when you use all sorts of visual aids in the classroom. From slides and photographs to videos and PowerPoint presentations, you can find numerous ways to make lessons more visually interesting.
It's also worth encouraging your visual learner to organize information by outlines. Using a system of bullets, dashes, letters and numbers may help your child to visualize how smaller subjects support larger topics.
With visual demonstrations and aids, any visual learner is equipped to succeed in the classroom.
2. Auditory Learners
The sound of your voice or a piece of recorded music is what this learner really needs to make the most of their classroom time. They love lectures, and they typically want to contribute to discussions as well.
You may be able to identify an auditory learner by gauging how much they talk. In fact, you may already know which one of your children is an auditory learner based on how much they talk not only to others but also to themselves.
If you're giving instructions to an auditory learner, then they prefer to hear what you want them to do. Written instructions may only leave them confused and uncertain. It's best if the learning environment is relatively quiet as noisiness makes it hard for auditory learners to focus.
You may be able to determine whether or not your child is an auditory learner based on their tendency to remember names rather than faces or if they tend to express emotion more through volume and tone of voice rather than facial expression.
While auditory learners tend to enjoy discussions and lectures, many of them show a clear preference for music.
How to Help an Auditory Learner
Auditory learners thrive when they are allowed to think out loud. This means that they need a teacher who will listen to them and act as a reliable sounding board. Providing occasional prompts when the auditory learner seems stuck is a good idea. Hearing that prompt may be just what they need to get started again.
When your auditory student is presented with new information, ask them to verbally repeat it to you in their own words. This type of repetition helps to cement new concepts in the auditory learner's mind.
Question and answer sessions are another successful technique with most auditory learners. This type of back and forth is fantastic for keeping this type of learner active and engaged. Reading aloud is recommended for similar reasons.
Music can be an incredibly effective tool when it comes to learning for auditory students. Play soft music in the background during study sessions or find ways to incorporate singing songs into learning specific information. For instance, teaching young children the alphabet by using the song typically is most effective for auditory learners.
Suggested Learning Resource for our Auditory Learners:
3. Read/Write Learners
Whether speaking or writing, these learners adore words. This learning style frequently is misidentified as the auditory learning style. While there are similarities, there are ways in which a read/write learner is distinguished from an auditory learner.
For the read/write learner, the actual words that they hear are more important than hearing in general. If you're wondering if your child may be this style of learner, these are the characteristics to look for:
- A rich and varied vocabulary
- Quickly picks up new words
- Enjoys word games
- Loves to read independently or with others
- Better with word problems than equations in math
- Remembers quotes and rhymes and enjoys talking about reading
How to Help a Read/Write Learner
Pictures and diagrams aren't as useful to read/write learners. Instead, they prefer to see instructions that are written down in words or are verbally spoken. It's similarly recommended to read out loud to your child often and to frequently ask him to read out loud.
Monotone voices tend to cause read/write learners to disengage. The more lively and nuanced your voice is as you speak or read, the better able your read/write learner is able to retain information.
Mnemonics are fantastic tools for read/write learners as they help these students to grasp complex concepts. Read/write learners also thrive when they are asked to write stories, prepare a written report about a scientific topic or are tasked with writing a book report.
Educational games and word searches are popular with this type of learner. The more frequently you use writing projects with a read/write learner, the more they will succeed.
4. Kinesthetic Learners
These physical learners are always on the move. Doing is always better than passively listening to a lecture, and the more hands-on activity is, the better.
Drawing, building and experimentally putting something together always hits with the kinesthetic learner. If they have to sit still for too long, they will definitely become fidgety and restless.
You may have a kinesthetic learner if one of your children is well-coordinated on a physical level and prefers hands-on activities. Kinesthetic learners do not excel at sitting still, and you may notice that their attention regularly wanders during class time.
With tons of energy, the kinesthetic learner prefers to be on the go. They have a tendency toward being athletes or performers.
How to Help Kinesthetic Learners
Incorporate movement into lessons at every opportunity with kinesthetic learners. They also will appreciate opportunities to build or create, and lessons that have visual elements and a story also are more likely to appeal to them.
For young learners, drawing diagrams and tracing letters are key activities for sharpening reading and writing. Another excellent technique is to give the kinesthetic learner pipe cleaners, glue, paper and other supplies to build letters.
Re-enacting stories or scenes from historical events or books will always appeal to the kinesthetic learner as will using flashcards. Art and drama classes are favorites with this type of learner, and incorporating physical activity will definitely help with fidgeting and wandering attention.
Music Prodigies for Any Style of Learning
Whether your children are visual, auditory, read/write or kinesthetic learners, they will love exploring the world of music with Music Prodigies. Thanks to our engaging videos with plenty of colors and high-quality sound, students of every learning style will gravitate toward the study of music.
Combine those videos with colorful sheet music, playing desk bells and moving to the music, and you have a recipe for success for every learning style.