A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style

Ever wondered why your child always seems to remember something they see? Or perhaps they really get the hang of a new concept when they are hands-on and try it themselves? Maybe they are great at remembering new songs and rhymes? This isn’t a coincidence, often we have preferences when it comes to learning new things. These are commonly referred to as learning styles.

In this post, we will delve further into the different types of learning styles, as well as providing some practical ideas on how you, as a parent, can use this insight to support your child’s learning.

 

What are learning styles?

Learning styles is a concept that goes back as far as the early 1900s, however it really gained popularity in the 1970s when Neil Fleming introduced the concept of VAK (or VARK) learning styles. This suggested that individuals often have preferences when it comes to learning which can be loosely grouped into categories: Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that children should only learn through one narrowly defined style. It’s more about encouraging variety in learning activities so all styles are catered for.

 

What does this mean for my child’s learning?

Understanding the different ways children can learn opens our eyes to the wide variety of activities at our disposal to support learning. Although traditional note taking and written work is of course important, exploring new approaches based on the different learning styles outlined below could have a positive impact on your child’s learning.

 

Visual learners

Visual learners often learn best through pictures and imagery. They like to be creative, and recall concepts using diagrams, mind maps and colour.

5 practical ways to support visual learners:

  • Suggest the use of mind maps over traditional notetaking during revision or when reviewing a topic. Learners will often visualise a mind map better than extensive written notes. Colours also work well, so get the highlighters and pens out!
  • Whiteboards are perfect for visual learners to demonstrate processes and to draw out new concepts and ideas.  
  • Flashcards are a popular learning tool with the addition of images as visual cues.
  • Using storyboards in Creative writing, timelines for History, and diagrams in Science are great for visual learners.
  • The concept of journaling is also a great tool and is applicable for most subjects.

 

Auditory learners

You might question whether your child has this learning style, especially when they don’t hear your request for help with the house chores! Auditory learning isn’t just about listening though, it’s speaking too. Auditory learners would much rather speak and listen than read or write. You might hear auditory learners talking aloud when reviewing concepts or revising.

5 practical ways to support auditory learners:

  • Debates and discussions on topics are great for auditory learners as a method to understand new concepts. This could be with a friend or members of the family.
  • Rhymes and mnemonics are useful for memorising facts. These can then be played back or read aloud.
  • Encourage your child to be the teacher and give a presentation on a new topic, or even present back individually to themselves in front of a mirror. Although the last idea might sound a bit strange, it really works!
  • Consider audio books and podcast resources to supplement your child’s learning.
  • Read aloud – a simple, yet effective option for auditory learners when digesting new information and during revision.

 

Kinaesthetic learners

Kinaesthetic learners prefer to learn through “doing”. Whether that’s testing a theory or through a practical experiment – learners will opt to put their understanding into practice at any opportunity.

5 practical ways to support auditory learners:

  • Although this style lends itself very well to certain subjects and activities, such as Science experiments for instance, it can play a role in all subjects. Some popular ways to integrate “doing” into every day learning include:
  • Using Base 10 or similar counters/shapes when solving Maths problems.
  • Creating opportunities to learn through movement. This could be through recalling facts when walking or using a game of catch when revising times tables.
  • Letter tiles are a useful and practical resource for English for creating new words or spelling.
  • Another popular activity is hide and seek with new words and letters. Once discovered, the word must be read aloud correctly before moving on to find the next one.

 

Hopefully the above provides some food for thought and ideas for supporting your child’s learning at home. Everyone learns differently with individual preferences. By trying a variety of approaches you will be able to get a clearer picture of the activities that work well for your child. Remember variety is key so get creative and enjoy trying the different approaches together!

 

For more guidance on how Boutique Education can support your child in identifying their preferred learning style contact us.

 

Kate Noble

Kate Noble

Kate is originally from the UK, although she has lived in Dubai and now Singapore. She qualified as a teacher in the UK and has taught in a range of primary and secondary settings, as well as undertaking home schooling and tutoring roles. Kate is particularly interested in creating independent learners and undertook a Masters at University College London to strengthen her knowledge in this area. In her spare time, Kate is busy looking after her toddler, Jess, and exploring Singapore. She loves travelling (although this is on hold with the pandemic!) and enjoys writing a travel blog, The Guestbooks, with her equally travel obsessed father Chris.
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