Children start learning from the moment of birth without being taught how to. They are driven by their intrinsic motivations to form connections with surrounding objects, sounds, tastes, and other sensory experiences. But, how do children learn without being taught? It might seem an obscure notion in a society that values this style of education that children do not have to be taught in order to learn, but when thought about logically, it makes perfect sense! All species have to be able to learn in order to survive.
Interestingly, how children learn will be influenced by a personality type as the brain developed, which will then be either strengthened later in life or ignored for the favor of a “one size fits all” learning approach.
Learning styles are nothing new, as the concept was first floated around in the 1970s’; however, not enough strategies are implemented in mainstream teaching to accommodate this research.
The negatives to this might not need to be spelled out, but when a child is forced to learn in a way that does not come naturally, it is hardly surprising that the child may not reach full potential. Not only that, but it could have a detrimental effect on engagement with learning.
This piece will discuss the different learning styles that children might possess and how to facilitate those for a stronger and more rewarding education.
How do Children Learn?
A big question without a straightforward answer, children learn through a medium that resonates with a specific personality. For example, some children learn by listening (Aural); some children prefer to learn by seeing (Spacial), some children learn by asking questions (Linguistic), and others learn by doing (Kinesthetic). There are even more styles that children mix and match with these to create the perfect learning environment which this piece will shed light on.
One great tip for children learning is to use personalized interests as examples. An example would be if a child were interested in dinosaurs, incorporating dinosaurs into lessons can really improve learning.
Children and Aural Learning (Auditory)
Aural learning is a style that means children learn best by listening. No, this isn’t a joke!
Mediums such as music, movies, video clips, and conversations are the best capacity for an aural learner to take in information.
Children who work well with an auditory learning style often do best in traditional school environments, as listening to the teacher and discussing topics with classmates is the favored style of teaching.
Children and Visual Learning (Spatial)
Visual learning is a style that is favored by children who learn and gather information by observing. This could be anything from looking at pictures and images, graphs, diagrams, and other means of creating a visual representation of information. These are best for children who “think in pictures” rather than words and often learn best holistically over sequentially. A visual learner has the advantage of seeing the ‘big picture.’
There are some great tips on how to support a visual learner, and intervention at home could really help children flourish where schools opt to take a more traditional route.
Children and Verbal Learning (Linguistic)
Linguistic learners often favor using words to learn, in both reading, writing, and speech!
Children who possess this learning style are often able to express themselves concisely, have a wide vocabulary, and do well at subjects such as English, Journalism, or even in debates.
Verbal learners will prefer the use of words when being taught, which means pictures and diagrams may be a struggle. Verbal learners also appreciate the complexity of a sentence structure, which enhances learning ability! Research some brilliant suggestions to aid children in verbal learning.
Children and Tactile Learners (Kinesthetic)
Children who learn through touch are often referred to as “Kinesthetic” learners. But how do children learn through touch? Kinesthetic learners would rather physically “do” something in order to learn, such as drawing, building, or assembling something, and then learn by association what to do and what not to do by trial and error.
A traditional classroom is not ideal for kinesthetic learners. Classrooms and general curriculum offer limited movement, and through movement is how kinesthetic learners retain information best.
Parents and teachers alike can support kinesthetic learners by incorporating more physical activity in lessons. For example, in science, a science experiment will benefit a kinesthetic learner. Alternatively, ask children to reenact stories or scenes from a history class. For maths, incorporating physical props such as money or blocks can help kinesthetic learners’ to retain information.
For those who love being hands-on with children, consider looking into pediatric nurse practitioner programs for a rewarding career.
Are There Other Learning Styles that are Important?
The list of learning styles keeps growing, and while it might be a pain for teachers, it a fantastic advancement toward recognizing children as individuals and focusing on the best methods to help all children achieve the highest of potential.
In addition to the learning styles previously mentioned in this piece, there are others that children benefit from. It is also worth noting that it is rare for a child only to use one learning style, and often, the styles are mix and matched to suit the learner or the activity.
An example of other learning styles could also be determined by whether the learner finds group participation helpful over sitting somewhere quietly in a corner alone. A social learning style (Interpersonal) will often see children socializing and communicating with other children while learning. A more solitary learning style (Intrapersonal) will see children who are more introspective and independent, opt to work and learn alone. An intrapersonal learner will often focus best without the distractions, thoughts, and feelings of other classmates!
It is not possible for parents to alter the course in which a lesson is taught at school, but knowing children’s learning styles can help the facilitation of better learning and also more comfortably at home. Recognizing children’s learning styles will also help support learning information outside of school (which is equally as important!).