Career & Education

Do you know your child's preferred learning style?

Dr Karla Hylton

Sunday, October 13, 2019

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If you are a parent of more than one child, you would already know that each child is a unique individual with distinguishing characteristics and personalities. Despite having both parents in common and sharing similar circumstances, each sibling behaves differently, interprets situations differently, and also learns differently.

Einstein famously said: “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” It's an interesting observation that, in simple terms, means that we should not be judged…or taught… by the same yardstick; we all have unique and distinct strengths and weaknesses, but we all have incredible potential to be great. There is no right or wrong learning style.

The fact that children prefer to learn in different ways can be especially challenging to the educator who has many children with diverse needs in the classroom. It is therefore always recommended that the educator employ a mix of different teaching approaches to cater to these assorted needs.
At home, however, each child can be encouraged and shown how to make the best out of his or her preferred learning style to study and prepare for examinations.

Educators and researchers continue to debate the concept of learning styles as well as how to categorise learning styles. I will present one school of thought, which posits that there are seven learning styles. They are as follows:

1. Visual (spatial): Learners prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding. These learners respond well to concepts presented as charts, tables, maps, diagrams, etc. Incorporating colour while making notes is also useful. They also like to sit towards the front of the classroom. Consider incorporating video presentations for study and learning.

2. Aural (auditory-musical): Learners prefer using sound and music. They prefer audio-based lessons and tend to do well in the classroom because they have superb listening skills. The learner should consider tape recording him or herself reading aloud from notes or textbooks, and then listening to the recording as a form of study.

3. Verbal (linguistic): Learners prefer using words, both in speech and writing. They love to read and write. Words are significant to these learners. Discussion and text-based lessons are valuable teaching tools for this student. Rewriting notes is also an excellent form of study for these learners.

4. Physical (kinesthetic): Learners prefer using their body, hands and sense of touch. They like the hands-on approach. They are energetic and may fidget in the classroom. While these characteristics may pose a challenge in classrooms, strategies can be employed at home for review and study. I recommend that these learners be allowed to squeeze a soft ball in one hand or intermittently while writing or doing homework. This learner also may find that walking around while reviewing the notebook or textbook to be helpful.

5. Logical (mathematical): Learners prefer using logic, reasoning and systems. These students are marvelous at problem-solving and respond to puzzles, statistics and pattern recognition. They want to understand the reason behind content or skills and tend to enjoy games such as chess. These students study best by extracting key points and creating lists and charts.

6. Social (interpersonal): Learners prefer to learn in groups or with other people. These students tend to be natural leaders, extroverts and good communicators. They shine in group work, role play and skits. They study best in groups and learn best when they share their knowledge. They are well-suited for peer teaching.

7. Solitary (intrapersonal): Learners prefer to work alone and use self-study. They are introspective, independent, self-directed and self-aware. They also are amenable to other learning styles. These students are self-motivated and critical thinkers. They like to study alone and are very interested in goals and outcomes. Active reading and good note taking skills are valuable strategies for studying.

In closing, bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to learning styles. The vast majority of people will fit into multiple styles to varying degrees. There is also no 'good' or 'bad' preferred style — every style has its own advantages and disadvantages. The trick is to make the most of the advantages. In addition to what I've shared with you here, there are a number of reliable resources available online to guide you in assessing and facilitating your child's prefered style of learning.

Dr Karla Hylton is a UWI lecturer and the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools. She operates Bio & Chem Tutoring, which specialises in secondary level biology and chemistry. Reach her at (876) 564-1347, biochemtutor100@gmail.com or khylton.com.






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