How Do the Learning Styles Develop?
In early childhood development, most children acquire information about the world around them in very concrete manners. Toddlers need to experience the world around them and therefore the best way to learn is through touch.
Most children under five years of age are kinesthetic learners. They discover their world through play. This is why small children touch everything and often test everything by putting it in their mouths. Even in preschool and kindergarten, children can’t wait to get their hands on tactile stimulating materials, such as water tables, boxes of rice with objects hidden in them, and play-dough. Since children at this stage of development are generally all very tactile, it is difficult to determine what their future learning style will be.
As students move into first and second grade, more structured learning will require the student to start developing his or her learning style. While the child does not consciously develop the style, the brain already starts processing, analyzing, and reasoning through the learning styles. While some students may continue to prefer hands-on materials to learn, others will start to prefer drawings on the board, or require that the teacher give a verbal explanation of a concept.
For example, if a class is learning about sentence structure, the kinesthetic learners will want to build the sentence with flashcards, while the visual learners will want an example on the board with different colors. Auditory learners, on the other hand, will listen to the teacher form the sentence verbally and retain the information in this way.
By the end of second grade and into third grade, learning styles are much more refined and students may even begin to recognize how they learn best. They may begin to use colors as visual stimulants for studying. They may prefer to create a model to help them understand how science works. Some students may just listen and ask for the teacher to repeat an explanation, even though an example is on the board.
No matter what the case, it is important to remember that just because students have one predominant area does not mean that they can’t learn in other ways. Oftentimes students will have a mix of learning styles. Understanding this mix of styles will help facilitate learning in the classroom and help parents have a better idea of how to help their child study.