How do you help your child learn? The first step is knowing how you learn and how they learn. This is commonly known as learning styles. There are three primary learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Each of these learning styles have characteristics that define them. There are no absolutes but dominant learning styles can be identified in many cases. Also keep in mind that additional learning styles are identified, feel free to explore but I will discuss the three main ones here. Since school is out, this is a great opportunity to identify learning styles and engage in activities that are fun and enjoyable for you and your child using what you know!
As I visual learner I’ll describe some characteristics I demonstrate: avid note taker-it’s how I best learn and retain information, highlighters-I use them to identify important information as I’m reading, flashcards, I often remember where I saw something on a page when I am trying to find information, it is important for me to review notes and sometimes rewrite them to learn, I study using outlines and definitions, story maps and graphic organizers are helpful as well. Auditory learners tend to read aloud or like things to be read to them, involved in class discussions, repeat things over and over, enjoy lectures and hearing information, enjoy books on tape and loves music. Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing, they are bodily learners that need to be involved in what they are doing, they love to act things out, manipulatives are always good during the learning process-they need to have something tangible, they seem to always be moving and may have a hard time just being still. This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully you get the point and were able to identify yourself and others as you read some of the characteristics.
Understanding your learning style as a parent can help ease frustration when working with your child. In turn understanding your child’s learning style can help ease frustration for them as well. Sometimes this frustration prevents us from asking and offering help and from helping students reach success in academics. Having this understanding will not solve every challenge when working with your child, but it will solve what is potentially the biggest barrier to providing assistance. Once you identify that learning styles may be the barrier then you are able to identify a potential issue with content knowledge and then work through it.
The benefits to identifying learning styles are immeasurable and the possibilities are endless! As a learning specialist during my introductory session with families I complete learning style assessments for the parent and the child. We discuss the results, current practices, and suggestions for incorporating learning style specific approaches. I have taken the time to identify the learning styles of a few of my struggling students. In both cases, I have been able to decrease frustration for myself, parents, students, and increase learning. For my students, now that we are informed about how they learn best I can incorporate learning style specific approaches and activities to curriculum to increase academic success. This approach also helps students identify current habits for studying, homework, and tests. Students are able to recognize and analyze approaches that are beneficial, can be eliminated, and new techniques to use.
Many of the assessments used are not always culturally sensitive but rather more generalized. While there are many to choose from, the options can be somewhat overwhelming. I have shared some links below that I have found helpful. Let me know which one works best for you, I really think its a matter of personal preference. I am currently in the process of developing some assessments that include other aspects that can be more readily identifiable. I’ll post the finished products soon! http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles.shtml
http://www.howtolearn.com/learning-styles-quiz/ (you have to give them your e-mail)
Also, the following link will take you to the Phoenix Public Library site where you can find out more about family fun activities, summer reading, and so much more! http://www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org/Pages/default.aspx. For those in other states, please visit your local library via the internet or in person to find out more about what they’re doing this summer!