Learning

Discover your child's learning style

Children learn in one of four distinct styles, say experts. Identify your child’s individual learning style and help to boost her progress by making learning easier and more fun

Published

Some children take to learning new things like a rubber duck to bathtime. But others seem to struggle as they head into the school years, claiming to find school boring, worrying, or confusing. This may well be connected with a child’s individual learning style.

Educational experts have developed a theory based on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which roughly divides the way children learn into four categories. Each learning style is equally valid, but your child may lean heavily to one category, or show a preference for two types. Children may even switch, depending on the activity or task.

  • Visual learners – around 40 per cent of children – tend to find school easy, as traditional classroom methods are based on blackboard writing, looking at pictures and reading.
  • Auditory learners – around 30 per cent of children – are good at processing sound, so they respond well to spoken to spoken instructions and tend to have excellent memories.
  • Kinaesthetic learners are the ‘explorers,’ who need to test things out for themselves, and learn through active play.
  • Logical learners crave an answer to everything that puzzles them. These children tend to excel at number games and problems, and like routine and consistency.

Most teachers have at least a basic awareness of learning style, so if you feel your child isn’t getting her needs met, discuss alternatives...

SUPPORT AND ADVICE

Many experts think that younger children tend towards kinaesthetic learning, as they are so used to hands-on play, and the transition at five to sitting in a classroom, listening or watching the teacher, is intimidating. Kids who absorb information through bodily actions, and who concentrate best in an informal settings, can become bored and frustrated and even if they are academically intelligent, they may not perform well in academic subjects.

If you believe your child is a kinaesthetic learner, don’t let her fall into the trap of under-performing. Innovations as simple as allowing children to move around more in lessons, or using props in class, can make a huge difference.

Most teachers have at least a basic awareness of learning style, so if you feel your child isn’t getting her needs met, discuss alternatives – such as counting coloured beads, rather than adding up mentally, or having spellings read out rather than just printed on a homework sheet.

Parents tend to teach to their preferred learning style and so there can be a clash if their child has a different style. It’s sensible to find out what your own preferences are so you can make sure you don’t impose your choices on your children. Visit www.brainboxx.co.uk.

CASE STUDY

‘I thought my five-year-old daughter was just being difficult when she kept interrupting whenever I was trying to tell her something,’ says Sonya, mum to Frankie. ‘It wasn’t until I heard about learning styles that I realised she was a Logical learner, who needed to ask questions if something didn’t immediately make sense. We’re also developing her fascination with science with toys like insect-collecting kits and magnifying glasses. I’m so glad I know how she learns now. I can make sure she gets what she needs to help her find school interesting, and have fun at home.’

HOW DOES YOUR CHILD LEARN?

Check out our questions to find out:

1. Out on a walk, is your child

a. Picking up leaves, stamping in mud, climbing on fences?

b. Looking at everything you pass, or daydreaming?

c. Asking sophisticated questions using long words?

d. Quizzing you about why the sky is blue, what cows are thinking, and what you’re doing next?

2. Your child’s favourite toy is

a. A bike, that allows for exploration?

b. Lego and jigsaws?

c. Karaoke or drums?

d. Computer games?

3. In the bath, your child likes to

a. Splash, use bubblebath and a sponge?

b. Play games with bath toys?

c. Chat about the day?

d. Pour water between receptacles, take the plug out?

4. At school, is your child’s teacher most like to say

a. He/she can be disruptive?

b. He/she’s a daydreamer?

c. He/she’s a chatterbox?

d. He/she asks a lot of questions?

5. When watching TV or a film, is your child most interested in

a. re-enacting what he/she’s seen?

b. drawing pictures of it?

c. telling you what he/she liked about it?

d. analysing the plot?

ANSWERS

Mostly A

Kinaesthetic

Boys, who are generally ‘right-brained’, are more often kinaesthetic than girls who tend to be left-brained. The left side of the brain dominates in information-processing and use of language, whereas the right side deals with spatial relationships and understanding patterns. Kinaesthetic children need to ‘feel’ what they are doing, and actively engage in tasks. Sandpits, water play and sports are favourite activities. Encourage them with active play that allows them to use all their senses.

Top toy tips

Dressing-up box, bike, football, swings and slides.

Mostly B

Visual

Your child processes information via the eyes, and is happy to read a blackboard, or look at pictures. They learn through images and words. Creative games, drawing and construction games are all likely to appeal. Visual children tend to be tidy, well-organised and respond well to a calm, uncluttered environment. They are often highly imaginative, think in pictures and are likely to love drawing, painting and crafts that require good hand-eye co ordination.

Top toy tips

Lego, storybooks, crayons and paints, jigsaws.

Mostly C

Auditory

These children are good at processing large volumes of spoken information. Sensitivity to tone of voice, and a quick reaction to instructions, means they’re often very responsive in class. They also tend to be creative, with a natural love of music. They may spell phonetically, and prefer listening to reading. Help them by repeating information back to them and reading aloud regularly.

Top toy tips

Karaoke, musical instruments, audio books and trivia games.

Mostly D

Logical

Your child thinks more conceptually than most children, and asks constant questions. They are often able to grasp difficult abstract concepts and enjoy puzzles and science. These children need lots of adult support to satisfy their curiosity. Logical learners love deconstructing how things work. They like maths problems and design, and are less interested in ‘pretend’ games. Help them by putting aside a certain time every day for answering questions.

Top toys

Scientific instruments, computer games which require lateral thinking, number games, encyclopaedias.

No child wants to come home from school feeling stupid: it affects their confidence. It’s crucial to make learning fun

CASE STUDY

Julie, a mother of two, says: ‘My elder son was assessed as dyslexic when he was seven. I wanted to understand it better, and as I researched I came across the idea of learning styles. I realised immediately that my son is very Kinaesthetic: he learns a lot better through hands-on experience. Much of what happens in the classroom is auditory or visual, so children find themselves fishes out of water. No child wants to come home from school feeling stupid: it affects their confidence. It’s crucial to make learning fun. I encouraged my elder child to “feel” what he was learning – we would write spellings in chalk or draw them in a box of glitter. But my younger son is very auditory, so we do a lot of reading aloud.’

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