A learning style is the method by which a person begins to process, comprehend and learn new information.
There are many different theories about learning styles, cognitive styles and multiple intelligences. I've found it useful to identify my children's learning styles, and to assess materials and resources according to whether they are Visual, Auditory, or Tactual-Kinesthetic. The last is actually two different learning styles, but I don't find it useful to separate them, as any tactual experience will also be kinesthetic, and vice versa.
It is probably best to think of your child's learning style as a preference. A visual learner learns most easily and rapidly when presented with visual information. That doesn't mean she can't learn from auditory or tactual-kinesthetic information, just not as easily.
Children under the age of 8 are generally Tactual-Kinesthetic learners, with auditory and visual preferences developing in the early elementary years.
There are formal assessments for identifying learning style (see the links at the bottom of the page). I found it fairly to easy my children's learning style by simply watching them. When they were younger, I made sure to provide materials that suited all learning styles.
There are three basic learning styles:
Visual learners learn best from what they see.
Auditory learners learn best from what they hear.
Tactual learners learn by touching and physical sensory input. Kinesthetic learners learn by moving. I've lumped the two together, because one can't really move with a tactual experience, or touch something without moving.
The majority of people are Visual Learners and this is the easiest learning style to support, simply because most materials are designed for the visual learner. Books, videos, demonstrations, patterns, written information and pictures are all good ways of presenting information to the visual learner.
Presenting material auditorily is fairly simple. Just read it aloud. Use audio books (or cds) and make up songs to help your child memorize facts.
This is the hardest learning style to support. Tactual-kinesthetic learners are the smallest group, and appropriate materials can be hard to find.
Simply being able to move while learning can help. For instance, get a gymnastics ball for your child, instead of a chair, so she can bounce and wiggle while reading. Even walking while reciting can help.
Deaf and hard of hearing children tend to be visual learners by default. It is possible to be hard of hearing and be an auditory learner, which obviously presents some additional challenges.
Picking up auditory information is difficult for many children with hearing loss, so it's important to also provide visual and tactual input whenever possible. Use manipulatives and draw pictures and diagrams to support information that you give orally.
Many articles about the various aspects of learning styles.
Benchmarks & Content Standards
Using benchmarks and content standards for curriculum planning and academic assessment.
Buying a Homeschool Curriculum
Tips for evaluating curricula and making the best choice for your family.
Designing a Homeschool Curriculum
A five step guide to designing your own curriculum.
An overview of the various homeschooling methods.
Learning: The process by which a relatively lasting change in potential behavior occurs as a result of practice or experience. - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.
©2000-2013 Barbara L.M. Handley