How to Identify your Child’s Learning Style (and help them learn better)

All kids are different. If you have more than one child, you already know that.

You celebrate their differences and love them for who they are, but how can you teach each one in a way that will make learning a positive experience for them?

Figuring out your child’s learning style will make learning easier and help them remember what they learn (we all want that, right?).

So, how do you know what your child’s learning style is?

Great news: Identifying your child’s learning style is pretty easy and costs no money.

We’re going to look at the three main learning styles and how to incorporate simple things to make learning easier for each.

The three main learning styles

There are multiple different learning styles but I’m only going to focus on the three main ones: visual, auditory, kinaesthetic.

While research hasn’t provided evidence to support the idea that instruction is best provided in a format that matches the preference of the learner, I had one of each of the learning styles and I did see how using some of the ideas below helped them learn and remember better.

So, let’s dive in and figure out what style your child prefers and how to include what works for them in their learning.

Related: How to let go of the traditional school mindset

Visual Learners

Visual learners learn through seeing. They tend to think in terms of pictures, and use visual cues to organise and retain information. They like books and reading. They like to see a thing done before they do it themselves.

If your child does any of these, they may be a visual learner:

  • Think in pictures
  • Prefer tables, diagrams, videos etc
  • They write things down to remember them
  • Remember what was seen or written
  • Have vivid imaginations
  • Enjoy reading and books
  • Like to make lists
  • Remember faces, but forget names
  • Lose interest if they can’t picture what is being communicated
  • Like bright, stimulating colours
  • Scribble or doodle during lessons
  • Always want to see a demonstration of how to do something before they try it

How to help a visual learner:

  • Use flashcards for sight words and phonics rules
  • Use videos, charts, and computer programmes
  • Use descriptive language
  • Draw or sketch what you are trying to teach (this helped my visual learner – even with math)
  • Use illustrated books and textbooks
  • Put maps up on the wall (we had one on our dining room table, covered with plastic)
  • Allow your child to use coloured highlighters
  • Draw concepts as they are taught
  • Write down new vocabulary words so your child can see them
  • Use a whiteboard to teach
  • Use fingers to help them remember chores or concepts
  • Use mind maps or diagrams to teach concepts

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners learn by hearing – even if they are doing the talking. They need to talk things through and hear things verbally to process information. They can retain knowledge better when new ideas are paired with non-verbal sounds like music, drum beats or clapping.

If your child does any of these, they may be an auditory learner:

  • Talk constantly – to themselves and others
  • Have a knack for languages
  • Talk through whatever they are thinking
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Interrupt often
  • Say the sound of the word as they write it
  • Enjoy music
  • Repeat what someone says so they remember it
  • Have large vocabularies
  • Remember names, but forget faces
  • Prefer you to read a story to them than read it themselves
  • Easily follow spoken directions.

How to help an auditory learner:

  • Use phonics to teach reading
  • Have students answer questions orally
  • Read aloud to your child, even if old enough to read on their own
  • Get them to explain a new concept to someone else
  • Use music, poetry, or rhythm to teach new subjects
  • Encourage discussion, brainstorming, and questions
  • Take regular breaks from teaching for child to ask questions and talk
  • Make up songs to teach new subjects/facts/concepts
  • Allow them to study with another child
  • Keep their study area quiet to avoid distractions
  • Read assignment directions aloud
  • Play quiet background music (my auditory learning child still loves doing this – makes no sense to me, but he says it helps him!)
  • Add recitation to your learning – science facts, Bible verses, math facts, preposition lists
  • Encourage them to say things out loud

Kinaesthetic Learners

Kinaesthetic learners learn by moving, doing, and touching. They use experience and activity to understand and remember information. They absorb information best through touch, movement, and motion.

If your child does any of these, they may be a kinaesthetic learner:

  • Child moves constantly
  • Lose interest if they can’t do something active
  • Enjoy physical activities and sports
  • Like lots of space in which to work and play
  • Move their hands when they talk
  • Have difficulty sitting still for extended periods of time
  • Sensitive to how things feel, like clothing etc
  • Notice and appreciate texture
  • Think or process best when moving around
  • Take frequent breaks when studying
  • Do not spend a lot of time reading (they may hate it! – my son just gives up if he has to read too much, even as an adult)
  • Prefer non-desk positions for studying – lying on the bed or floor

How to help a kinaesthetic learner:

  • Do lessons away from a desk – on the bed, floor, or couch, the exercise ball or even outside
  • Use lots of experiments in science
  • Use math manipulatives
  • Take frequent breaks so the child can move
  • Allow them to play quietly while you read to them
  • Teach while walking
  • Teach in short spurts
  • Allow the child to stand during lessons
  • Use physical movement to teach (I put our reading flashcards on the floor and got my son to jump toward the word I called out – it helped a lot!)
  • Have your child act out a new concept
  • Use blocks, puzzles, felt boards, play-dough, 3-D letters
  • Have child clap out numbers or syllables for words

Do you recognise your child yet? I had one of each of these!

Still stuck? This quiz might be helpful.

In the long run remember you are teaching a child, not a book, so use whatever methods necessary to help your child enjoy the learning experience.

This could be fun!

What learning styles do you see in your children? How do you incorporate their learning styles into your teaching?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer homeschooled all three of her kids-with no teaching qualification. Her kids are grown now but she is still passionate about homeschooling. She lives in South Africa.

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