Top 5 Tips on Getting to Know Your Child’s Learning Style
It’s already the beginning of December and the first day of school is but a distant memory. By this time of year parents begin to feel the daily grind of helping their children with homework. I have been thinking a lot about this topic lately and our next blog will be dedicated to providing tips on supporting children with special education needs in doing their homework. However, in my opinion the first step that parents need to take in that process is to better understand your child’s preferred learning style. Some key tips include:
1. If you have never thought about their learning style, observe your child for the next few days when helping them with their homework. Some of the key questions to ask yourself can include: Does your child learn things best when he can see them?; Does your child learn things best when he can hear them?; Does your child understand some things best when he can manipulate or move them?
2. Brush up your knowledge of the three main learning styles: auditory, kinaesthetic, and visual. Here I will provide a very basic summary of these three styles, but you may wish to consult other sources from books, articles etc. written on this topic for more detailed information.
Ø Visual learners process new information by reading, looking at graphics, or watching a demonstration. Children with this learning style can grasp information presented in a chart or graph, but they may grow impatient listening to an explanation. This type of learner may benefit from using visuals to help with some of their homework.
Ø Auditory learners prefer listening to explanations over reading them and may like to study by reciting information aloud. This type of learner may need to listen to a story or have directions read to him. For auditory learners too much written material, pictures or charts may confuse him.
Ø Kinaesthetic learners learn by doing and touching. They may have trouble sitting still while studying, and they are better able to understand information by writing it down or doing hands-on activities. This type of learner may learn math better through using manipulatives to teach some concepts.
3. Once you know your child’s main learning style you should talk to his teacher about it. Find out what they have observed and their opinion of what kind of a learner they think he is. Engage his teacher in a discussion about what kind of approaches would help him learn best. This is a good opportunity to share ideas that have worked and come up with some new strategies for the classroom and at home.
4. Be wary of structuring all learning strategies according to their preferred learning style. The reality is that a child’s preferred learning style may change as he grows and it is important to encourage learning through a variety of ways. This means that parents should help their children practice using different kinds of skills. For example, if you are using a more visual/auditory approach to teach math concepts such as flashcards, you could switch your approach to include a more kinaesthetic approach such as a hands-on game to reinforce learning in a different way.
5. Parents should try out some different strategies to help improve helping with homework. As a preview to our upcoming blog, here are a few tips focussed on each type of learner.
- Talk to themselves or with others about what they are learning
- Recite important information, possibly recording it and playing it back
- Read a book and listen to the audio book version at the same time
- Read aloud and track words on a page with a finger
- Move around and take frequent breaks
- Integrate hands-on activities, such as using manipulatives and playing games
- Use flash cards
- Draw visuals to illustrate concepts
- Highlight and underline text to help organize key information
Improving your awareness as parents of your child’s learning style can help reduce the stress and anxiety many parents and their children experience with homework. Not only that, but in addition it can work alongside other efforts to improve the learning outcomes of students with special education needs.
Special Education Consultant
Love your blog. Simple, direct, to the point with examples of teaching. Excellent in my book.