“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.”
– Pablo Casals
The Unique Learner
Each child is unique. Each learns in her or his own way.
Discovering that “Learning Style” is an underappreciated, yet key factor in academic success.
Education researchers have identified seven broad categories of Learning Style:
- Visual (spatial). You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical). You prefer using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic). You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic). You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical). You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal). You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal). You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
Most learners are a combination of two or more of these categories. For example, a Visual-Physical Learner may learn best from information they can look at and consider, as well as touch with their hands. Such learners may benefit from using information on a computer display, as well as a lesson gained through a lab experiment.
New Ways of Learning
Parents need to understand their children do not learn the same ways that they did. Learning then had only to compete with television and radio.
Today, with personal computers, the Internet, smart phones, social media, there also is much more information in the learning environment than ever before. What’s more, they are available to our children all the time.
Not only can these provide information, they also can act to obscure meaning and other dimensions of learning. What works for one learner may leave another feeling overwhelmed and prefer to focus on one channel of information at a time.
This may be why more and more children today are becoming Kinesthetic learners, meaning they are hands-on and interact with what they study. Some thrive in the new environment, finding they learn best when all their senses are involved.
Awareness Is Essential
It’s important to know one’s Learning Style to best approach various academic subjects. Some fields of study may require a learner to develop new or unfamiliar Learning Style skills. Others may require students to follow a lecture and read from a textbook to gain detailed information.
Similarly, teachers, schools and universities usually won’t adjust a program to meet a student’s Learning Style. Schools and educators are concerned with curriculum and meeting the benchmarks. They don’t have time to adjust their programs to individual Learning Styles.
Since we don’t usually have the luxury of picking teachers, learners must be prepared to adjust for different learning environments that can provide information in unaccustomed ways. Once one understands the various styles of learning, one can identify the teacher’s approach and adjust accordingly.
It’s Our Job to Teach Our Children How to Learn
Among our responsibilities, parents must help their children discover how they learn. With awareness, one can develop and strengthen those Learning Style areas in which one is not strong.
Some students find they learn best when listening to loud music on the radio as they work on a calculus problem. Somehow, the sounds frees up part of the brain needed for the complex problem solving.
Others may enjoy tossing a football with another person as they work on French vocabulary. Somehow, the complex action required in throwing and catching enables their brain to better memorize new words.
And then there are the techniques that are unique to each student. What’s needed is awareness.
There are many resources available online, such as Learning-Styles-Online.com, at the library and at The Student Connection to help determine what works best.
Along with a learner’s own abilities and favored Learning Style, knowing how to develop and strengthen those areas is the key for academic success no matter the learning environment or Learning Style.
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