Most parents are satisfied if their kids are reading, writing and bringing home decent grades. If that's the case, they may not take to time to determine how their child learns best.
While everyone learns in different ways, children naturally fit into one of three broad categories: visual, auditory or physical learners.
Freddi Greenberg, editor-in-chief of Nick Jr. magazine, says it's a good idea to discover your child's style.
If you know how your child best absorbs information, you can use this knowledge to enhance learning at home. You'll be better prepared to help with homework. And, you can head off potential problems at school by letting teachers know from Day 1 what your child needs to be a success in the classroom.
You don't have to sit through a math class to figure out how your child learns. You can pick up clues from things he or she does every day Greenberg says on The Early Show. For example:
While drawing, your child often
a) hums / sings to self (auditory learner)
b) draws things he sees (visual learner)
c) stands instead of sits (physical learner)
On a car trip, your child
a) plays word games (auditory learner)
b) looks out window (visual learner)
c) plays with toys (physical learner)
Kids in this category learn best by listening, discussing and reciting new information. For example, if learning to play a new game, she would understand best if you first explained all the rules and then let her ask questions. Here are some characteristics of auditory learners.
- enjoys talking
- often hums or sings
- picks up tunes quickly
- easily follows oral directions
If your child learns best through listening, you can make it easier for her to learn new concepts by reading directions aloud and then asking her to repeat what she just heard. Songs like "Ten Little Monkeys" will help her counting skills. Auditory learners tend to love story hour at the library - they can hear new words and find new friends to talk to - as well as books on tape. These activities will boost a child's interest in books and improve her reading skills.
Kids in this category use their sense of sight to take in and retain information. They remember concepts best when they see them in pictures, films or demonstrations. If learning to play a new game, a visual learner will want to watch other people playing before she joins in. Here are some characteristics of visual learners:
- good speller
- likes puzzles, maps, charts
- prefers art to music
- neat and organized
Use your visual learner's observation skills to boost her math skills. When you're at the grocery store, ask her to count all the circles or squares he can find. Improve verbal skills by having her look at a picture book and then tell you what's going on.
This is the child who doesn't want to bother learning the rules to a new game - she wants to jump right in and learn as she plays. A physical learner is very active and hands on. She doesn't want to learn about earthworms through a picture in a book, she wants to touch a real worm. Here are some characteristics of physical learners.
- uses hands when talking
- is an avid collector
- likes "building" toys
Because physical learners are so active, they sometimes have a hard time sitting still and truly focusing on what you or a teacher is saying. Greenberg suggests giving this child a squishy ball to play with when learning requires sitting still; this will satisfy the need to be physical while allowing her to concentrate on what's being said. But whenever possible, parents should encourage their physical learner to learn while doing. Red Light/Green Light or Simon Says are a good way to develop listening skills, while encouraging your child to act out a character's role in a book is a good way to make reading more exciting.
Greenberg notes there is no "right" or "wrong" learning style. Just because your child prefers to learn visually, for instance, does not mean she is a weak auditory or physical learner. She just happens to be particularly adept at learning visually.
You're child's style won't change over time. However, as kids develop, they continue to develop and strengthen a variety of learning skills.