Thursday, August 11, 2005

Learning Styles

Learning styles are useful for parents trying to understand their children's academic challenges and how to help them deal with them. To provide a simple example: trying to explain something verbally when your child would understand a picture better can be frustrating for both of you! Experts have identified three basic learning styles:
Auditory learners remember by talking out loud. They like to have things explained orally and may have trouble with written instructions. Auditory learners may talk to themselves when learning something new.
Visual learners easily remember visual details and prefer to see what they are learning. They prefer to write down instructions and may have trouble following lectures or instructions given verbally.
Kinesthetic or tactile learners prefer activities and want to actually do what they are learning about. Tactile learners like to touch things in order to learn about them and like to move around when talking or listening.Identifying your child's preferred style will help you to provide more useful learning support. Parents are often surprised to find that their child's learning style may be different from their own or from their siblings. Be aware that the three broad categories described above are only the tip of the iceberg of individual variation in learning strengths and weaknesses. There are a vast possibility of combinations which include different types of intelligences, "different wiring", different levels of motivation, differences in abilities to pay attention, remember, focus etc. For instance, I know one brilliant child who for some reason, cannot keep track of more than three instructions given to her verbally. She has learned to compensate by note taking. More on learning styles.

Make sure your child has the opportunity to use all three learning styles. And while all three styles need to be developed, rely on your child's preferred learning style for the more difficult lessons. Reinforce lessons using multiple learning styles, particularly for younger children .

Help your child improve their learning skills in the learning styles where they are less comfortable. In some cases, this requires helping them understand their own abilities including teaching them techniques for compensating. In some cases, it means putting them in situations where they feel free to experiment. Computers can put children at ease because they are non-judgemental: a computer doesn't register emotion when children make mistakes. This allows children the freedom to try new things and practice difficult subjects in a safe and private way.

Computers Engage Many Learning Styles. Look at the Time4Learning learning activities to see how the activities rely on audio, graphics, text, and interactivity to engage all three main learning styles to build skills and understanding.

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