Every child has a dominant learning style, a way that he best absorbs and processes information, explains Kristin Redington Bennett, Ph.D., assistant professor of education at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, N.C. Some kids may fit obviously into one learning style; others may straddle a few different styles. One of the great perks of homeschooling is that once you identify how your child learns best, you can tailor your lesson plans to your child’s strengths—a strategy that can reduce stress and boost happiness in your homeschool.
Kinesthetic Learners (a.k.a. Body Smart learners)
Kinesthetic learners need to move to learn. Kids who are kinesthetic learners concentrate better and retain information better when they are moving around.
Signs your child may be a kinesthetic learner
- You joke that your child has a permanent case of the wiggles because she’s always squirming in her seat, bouncing up and down, crossing and uncrossing her legs, or tapping her feet.
- He has a great sense of balance and co- ordination. He’s also good at activities like sports and dance.
- She talks with her hands, using lots of gestures and moving around when she’s telling you a story.
How to teach your kinesthetic learner
- Push back the chair, and encourage your child to stand up or balance on an exercise ball when he’s working.
- Take regular 15-minute breaks to toss a ball, build with Legos, or practice your Just Dance routine.
- Teach your child to make letter shapes with her body, and let her practice spelling words with movement instead of on paper. Grab the abacus when you’re solving math problems together so she can move the beads as she’s counting.
Visual learners (a.k.a. Image Smart learners)
Visual learners absorb information best when they can see information, usually in the form of pictures, charts, or diagrams.
Signs your child may be a visual learner
- He loves doing puzzles and solving mazes.
- She’s good at following directions for things like playing a game or putting together Lego structures.
- He’s very particular about how his space is arranged. He needs to have everything set out just the way he wants it before he’ll start an art project or a game.
How to teach your visual learner
- Buy lots of different colored highlighters, markers, and pencils for your child to use for schoolwork.
- Encourage him to draw things out, whether it’s a series of pictures for a creative writing assignment or groups of shapes for math problems.
- Send her out with a camera to take photographs of different colors, shapes, plants, or other objects.
Logical Learners (a.k.a. Number Smart learners)
Logical learners are natural mathematicians, but they also use pattern-recognition and mental organization skills to approach other subjects.
Signs your child may be a logical learner
- He solves math problems in his head faster than he can write them out.
- She frequently comes up with ideas for science experiments and enjoys conducting them.
- He likes drawing patterns and playing strategy games.
How to teach your logical learner
- Look for puzzles and computer games to help her reinforce skills like spelling and computation
- Start with big picture issues (“What do you think this book is about?” or “Tell me what the solar system is”) before drilling down to details (“Tell me the characters,” or “Name the planets”)
- Help your child learn to organize his thoughts using outlines or lists.
Auditory Learners (a.k.a. Word Smart learners)
Auditory learners have a knack for memorizing things because they tend to think in words.
Signs your child may be an auditory learner
- He loves rhymes and word play.
- She has no trouble repeating back some- thing you told her several days ago and can tell you what’s coming up next in a book you’ve read before.
- He’s really good at trivia games.
- She frequently comes to you to tell you about what she’s doing when she’s work- ing or playing on her own.
How to teach your auditory learner
- Encourage her to make up songs with tricky information to make it easier for her to remember.
- Focus on the people and stories in subjects like science and history.
- Make up stories about math problems to help your child figure out how to solve them.
- Read out loud to your child to help her cement information in her memory.
Your mission this week: Observe your child, and pay attention to how he absorbs and retains information. Try a few new teaching or play strategies to see how he responds.
Part of this post is reprinted from the HSL Toolkit.