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Those in the circles of education have discussed the idea of learning styles for some time. This theory takes the approach of a multiple intelligence view of IQ and implies that the type of ability someone has is in direct correlation to the WAY that individual learns. It seems to have faded a bit in importance in the educational literature, but that does not negate its importance to the learning process.
Many theories on learning involve the mental processes kids experience to understand concepts. The major learning styles determine what type of learner your child is. Once you have established this, you will be better able to guide him and correlate this with the strategies we discussed in test-taking in Part III.
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Visual Learner Visual learners are finely tuned in to what they see. They tend to take very good notes, prefer to see concepts and questions in books or written on the board and are attracted to colors and other visual components. They do better on printed tests as opposed to oral ones and often require visual cues to learn certain concepts.
Aural Learner Aural learners learn more by what they hear than by what they see. They take cues from spoken language as opposed to text they read and respond well to audio books and oral directions. These students can sometimes remember most of what was said but are often not good note-takers. They do best with tests which are given orally.
Kinesthetic Learner These learners are hands-on people. They will make good mechanics, artists and engineers in later life. We see young children in this category many times, but older learners are sometimes kinesthetic in nature too. The more hands on activities you can give kinesthetic learners, the better they will achieve and understand the concepts. There is an old adage, “Tell me, I see. Show me, I understand.” Kinesthetic learners follow the latter, preferring to have actual real world experience with something to anything read in a book.
Logical Learner Logical learners utilize left-brain reasoning ability to solve problems and understand difficult concepts. While they cannot use this type of reasoning in every context, logical learners are often adept at math, reasoning and abstract thinking. They tend to be better scientists than creative people, and sometimes have trouble seeing things “outside the box.” Give them a systematic set of directions to follow and they are happy, unlike other more creative learners, who prefer to take the approach that anything goes as long as it is unique.
Social Learner Social learners (based partly on Watson’s theory of “Social Learning Theory”) learn by watching and observing others. They interact well with peers and often engage in conversations about projects. This type of learner does well in group work and community projects, and tends to thrive around many people.
Solitary Learner Solitary learners may invent the next computer, 1000-watt light bulb, or write the next best-selling novel. This type of learner functions best alone and may be a future entrepreneur or company owner. They can be temperamental at times, but the result of their work is often genius. Put them alone with a project and an idea and you will usually be amazed.
Concrete Learner Concrete learners require specific, systematic methods to learn. Young children are most in this category when learning basic math and reading principles in the early phases. Older kids can sometimes be concrete in their thinking as well and are the opposite of abstract thinkers. This means higher level thought processes and concepts such as theories might be difficult for them to grasp. For concrete learners to understand a theory on molecular structure, for example, they may need to actually see a working model of one, rather than hear, see or read about it in some textbook.
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Now that we know the major learning styles (there are others, but these are considered the main types) how do we apply this to the learning process at school? The problem with learning styles is that schools do not often teach to specific learning styles. While some schools have made concerted efforts in the past to do this, they are rare.
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Parents can work with teachers by telling them what style of learner they believe their child is and asking the teacher to try to accommodate this style by offering them different types of assignments relative to their learning style. In addition, parents can look for games and activities online and through mobile applications, etc. to let kids practice skills utilizing the specific learning style techniques. A great deal of information in education circles addresses this. You could start with a search about learning styles.
In the meantime, check out the links in the References section to get started.
What Kind of Learner is your Child?
Although highly debated and somewhat controversial, standardized achievement testing is a fact of life. Learn some tips and approaches that can enable you to help your child do his or her best on assessments of every kind.