Although most children use a combination of visual, auditory and tactile approaches for learning, it isn’t unusual for a child to have a favorite style that works best for her. Identifying a child’s primary learning style can give parents and teachers clues about what approaches to use that will help a child understand the information she receives. Determining if a child is primarily a watcher, listener or hands-on learner is easy. However, it can take time to match the appropriate teaching style to a child’s style of learning, according to Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and parenting expert.
Use flash cards as a teaching strategy for a child who is a visual learner. Children who are visual learners create clear visual images in their head and therefore learn more effectively with pictures, charts, graphs, videos and other visual aids. Colors are particularly important to the learning process for children who use their visual senses to retain information.
Allow visual students to take a lot of notes that they can read later. Visual learners often prefer to read information for themselves rather than listen to someone else make explanations. A student may also want to underline or highlight notes with a color marker. Most children who are visual learners watch for visual cues, paying attention to the facial expressions and body language of teachers when they are learning.
Read out loud to a child who is an auditory learner. Children who are auditory learners are better at retaining information they hear. They pay attention to the tone, speed and pitch of a teacher’s voice to help them remember what they hear. Repeat words and phrases the child likes to hear.
Suggest that an auditory student recite information out loud. Some students even talk to themselves as they learn. A child who is an auditory learner usually likes to talk, sing, recite poems or tell stories. Auditory learners respond well to oral instructions, benefit from group discussions and generally do well listening to a teacher talk for long periods of time.
Show a child who is a kinesthetic learner how things work. Tactile learners enjoy learning about their world by touching things and experiencing for themselves what they are learning. These children have good motor coordination and enjoy hands-on activities to help them learn.
Permit a tactile learner to move around in class. Kinesthetic learners tend to be restless in class. Many cannot focus while they are sitting still.
Encourage children to practice using different learning strategies, as most successful students are comfortable using more than one method. Dr. Charlotte Reznik, an associate clinical professor of psychology at UCLA, points out that persuading children to use their imagination can help them make the most of whatever learning style they have.