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How to understand your child's learning styles

August 10, 2012 1:45:50 PM PDT
As you outfit your child with the latest fashion styles, be sure that you prepare for a successful school year by understanding your child's personal "learning style."Just as there are many different fashions, there are also many different ways a child learns. Because each child is unique, with different learning styles and academic needs, it is important to personalize the learning process. Understanding a child's learning style can help a parent and teacher personalize instruction or homework to ensure peak performance in school and build a child's self confidence.

People learn in at least eight different ways, according to the Multiple Intelligences Theory: visually, verbally, physically, mathematically, musically, naturalistically, through group activity or through quiet thinking time. Dr. Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D. and senior vice president for education outreach for Sylvan Learning, provides the following tips to assist parents in determining what type of learning style their child exhibits.

When reading the following tips, keep in mind that a child may exhibit more than one of the following learning styles.

How does your child learn?

  • Visual/Spatial learners enjoy photography, visual metaphors, puzzles, illustrations and story maps. Seeing a bar graph on the cost of different cars, for instance, would be a better learning tool than hearing a list of prices read aloud.

  • Verbal/Linguistic learners shine in activities such as storytelling, public speaking, drama and journal writing. Give children journals to keep for one month. Encourage them to write detailed descriptions of what they see, taste, feel and hear.

  • Bodily/Kinesthetic learners thrive on hands-on experiments, field trips, body language, crafts and sports. Take a field trip to a local factory, then make a visual display of what was learned.

  • Logical/Mathematical learners tend to be better at problem-solving, coding, data collecting, money management and scientific models. Help your child create a budget sheet that itemizes every cent spent during a one-month period. Determine what category drew the biggest expenses.

  • Musical/Rhythmic students may play an instrument, sing, hum or tap during work or require background music while they study. Turn memorization exercises into rhythmic word play and set it to any musical style.

  • Intrapersonal learners work better alone, doing individual study, personal goal-setting and self-esteem activities. This type of student can write down one objective and record the steps to achieving it.

  • Interpersonal learners work better in group activities, such as clubs, peer teaching, conflict meditation and active discussions. They would enjoy volunteering at a nursing home, women's shelter or charity and documenting the experience in a journal.

  • Naturalist learners tend to better understand ideas when it is related to a natural occurrence. These learners prefer outdoor activities (e.g., camping, gardening, hiking, bird-watching, etc).

It is important to remember that a student will be better prepared for classes if the parents and school teacher both understand personal learning styles and use this knowledge to help the child excel in school and on homework. Parents should share their observations about their child's learning style with their child's teachers.


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