One of my main issues with the public school system is that they do not cater to multiple learning styles. My son was in Montessori for pre-k and thrived because it accommodated multiple learning styles. Many people cannot homeschool their children, but you can arrange their learning environment at home to help them learn how to learn. The following article will give you tips and tricks to maximize your or your child’s learning experience. First, watch your child. When he learns something on his own, how does he do it? What things interest him? Does he just haveto take everything apart to see how it works? My son is a global learner. He finds some huge concept like “space” or “the environment” that he is interested in and we slowly dissect it getting movies, books and doing activities. I also noticed that he can hear a song once or twice and know it by heart. Therefore, we use music and rhythm to help him learn lists and concepts. How many of you remember when Potsy on Happy Days learned the circulatory system by singing “Pump, Pump, Pump Your Blood” (By the way, you can still hear that song on the Bayer Aspirin website).
We learn every day. We learn about ourselves. We learn about news and current events. We learn about others. We learn a new job or computer program. We learn stuff just to learn it. How much less stressed and more successful could our children be if we worked with them in a way that was meaningful to them… Learning styles are just another potential barrier to effective education. That is, we are not going to be nearly as successful and risk frustrating our kids and ourselves when we are trying
to teach them something in a way that they do not effectively learn. Many people are kinesthetic or visual learners. Nevertheless, we insist on putting them in groups and lectures and environments that are not conducive to learning for them. Although we may not be able to change the “system” completely, we can help kids learn how to function within it. For example, kids who are visual learners can be provided worksheets or encouraged to take notes. Small group activities to discuss
information or apply key points of the lesson are always helpful for kinesthetic learners. Read on to find out more ways to meet the needs of your kids and help them help themselves.
The first step in developing a realistic learning environment is for people to know their personal tendencies. What works for them? What adds extra dis-stress? What is the most efficient way to approach things based upon how they learn and their personality. A learning style is a name for relatively consistent pattern of behavior showing how people learn or adapt to their environment. People are often a combination of more than one learning style, but one style usually predominates. Learning style is the way people prefer to learn. It does not have anything to dowith how intelligent they are or what skills they have. There is no such thing as a “good” learning style or a “bad” learning style per se, and it is important for people to be aware of how their brain learns best in order to optimize their learning experiences.
Where does it come from?
Like temperament, learning style is largely in-born. Interestingly (and probably obviously) temperament and learning style interact. One of my “must-reads” for my students is Effective Teaching, Effective Learning: Making the Personality Connection in Your Classroom“. This book can help you learn to modify your environment to best meet your learning needs. Learning is affected by many things. As parents, we do not have the ability to change them all, but we can try to use them as much as possible, especially when helping with homework and extracurricular activities. The following link explains in great detail the differences in learning preferences across temperaments. Learning Styles
Learning styles can be conceptualized along 5 continuums:
• Environmental (The environment you need to learn best)
• Active/Reflective (When you process information)
• Auditory/hearing, visual/seeing, or kinesthetic/doing (methods for receiving information most effectively)
• Sequential or Global (How you conceptualize information)
• Sensing vs. Intuitive (What you pay attention to)
Understanding where your kids fit in each of these 5 areas will help you better design your presentations and their treatment plans and understand how to more effectively communicate with them.
Environmental Aspects of Learning
Aside from the way you prefer to receive information, there are many other things that affect your learning. Think about the last time you had a training and the room was uncomfortable, or the class was at a bad time for you. To determine your child’s learning environment preferences, have them answer the following questions.
1. Do you prefer silence, or background noise (television, others chatting), vocal music or instrumental music while concentrating or studying?
2. Do you prefer soft, dim or bright light while concentrating.
3. What level of temperature do you prefer while involved in studying and/or other learning activities?
4. Do you like to have a fan on and a breeze?
5. Do you prefer to study sitting at a traditional desk and chair, or do you like a more informal arrangement with different types of furniture, such as a couch, a recliner, or pillows and carpet on the floor?
6. For any topic, you have to decide the extent to which you are interested in learning. Are you self-motivated (intrinsic) by a desire to learn constantly or externally motivated through interest in a topic or positive feedback and reinforcement from peers and/or superiors?
7. Persistence relates to your attention span and ability to stay on task. Do you have a preference for working on one task until it is finished or do you prefer to work on a variety of tasks simultaneously?
8. Can you get lost for hours in a task if it something you are interested in?
9. Do you prefer to work independently without with little supervision, guidance or feedback, or do you prefer to have frequent feedback and guidance?
10. Do you prefer being told exactly what the learning task is, how you should proceed, and what is expected of you, or do you prefer to be given an objective and then be left alone to decide which procedures or options you use to reach the objective?
11. When working on an assignment, do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
12. If you prefer working in a group, do you like large groups or pairs or does it matter?
13. When working in a group do you prefer to be the group leader or just a member?
14. Do you like to work together with a supervisor or subject expert or do you react negatively to having authoritative guidance?
15. Do you like routines or patterns or do you prefer to work on what ever strikes your fancy at a given moment?
16. Do you prefer to chew, eat, or drink something while studying, such as a soft drink or coffee?
17. People’s energy levels vary at different times during the day. Do you prefer to work on a task that needs concentration in the early morning, late morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, or evening?
18. Can you sit still for a long period of time as long as you are interested in what you are doing, or do you prefer to move constantly — standing, walking, shaking your foot, tapping your pencil, changing body positions?
Now, use the answers you provided above and create the best learning environment for your
Active and Reflective Learning
Which group of statements helps your child learn best?
• Reflective learners prefer to think about it quietly first “Let’s think it through first”
• Reflective learners, prefer working alone.
• Reflective learners can sit through lectures without getting to do anything physical but take notes
• Reflective learners often get more out of an activity if they do it as homework so they can have time to mull it over.
• If you spend too much time reflecting you may never get anything done.
• Active learners tend to like group work
• Active learners need to talk it out. Have them walk you through their thought process. Encourage group participation instead of always asking rhetorical questions.
• If you are an active learner in a class that allows little or no class time for discussion or problem-solving activities, study in a group in which the members take turns explaining different topics to each other.
• If you always act before reflecting you can jump into things prematurely and get into trouble.
How can you as a parent alter your child’s study and learning environment to meet the her needs? How can your child work within the confines of the “system.” and get the most out of the experience.
This is how you best take in information.
Tips for kinesthetic learners
• Active kinesthetic learners tend to retain and understand information best by doing something active with it–discussing or applying it or explaining it to others. “Let’s try it out and see how it works”
• Work with others to guess what you will be asked on the next test and figure out how you will answer.
• You will always retain information better if you find ways to do something with it.
• If you are a reflective learner in a class that allows little or no class time for thinking about new information, when you study don’t simply read or memorize the material; stop periodically to review what you have read and to think of possible questions or
• Paraphrase and write-down important point as you read/talk/listen. (This is especially important if someone is trying to communicate something complicated)
• Manipulate the material through teaching or doing it whenever possible
• Use self-assessment quizzes to help clients identify issues
• Use skits or acronyms to remember important ideas
• Volunteer to make posters or overheads for group presentations (or a training manual if you are learning a job)
• Manipulate the information by making multiple choice tests or applying it in different situations
• Try to relate it to something you already know how to do
Tips for auditory learners
• Read your material out loud whenever possible
• Tape record your notes and listen to them while you drive, work out etc.
• Try to partner with a visual learner if you need to borrow notes
• Listen attentively to lectures
• Try to block out extra auditory (verbal) interruptions.
• If possible, tape record the class so you do not have to worry about taking notes
• Working in groups can be particularly effective: you gain understanding of material by hearing classmates’ explanations and you learn even more when you do the explaining.
Tips for visual learners:
• When you read material, visualize it in your mind. Then, try to recite it from memory.
• You may find you “hear” better if people write you letters or memos
• Rewrite your notes in a format which is easy to visualize and learn such as: outlining, color coding, underlining…
• Take mental “pictures” of things that must be remembered
• Use flash cards to learn and test yourself
• Use visual memory tricks where possible: acronyms, “a friend is a friend to the end” is a way to remember how to spell the word friend
• Visual learners remember best what they see–pictures, diagrams, flow charts, time lines, films, and demonstrations.
• Ask your instructor, consult reference books, and see if any videotapes or CD-ROM displays of the course material are available.
• Prepare a concept map by listing key points, enclosing them in boxes or circles, and drawing lines with arrows between concepts to show connections.
• Color-code your notes with a highlighter so that everything relating to one topic is the same color.
Have your children make a list of techniques they can use to best learn information in general and best learn about themselves.
Sensing Vs. iNtuitive Learning
Everybody is sensing sometimes and intuitive sometimes. Your preference for one or the other may be strong, moderate, or mild. If you are strong on intuition, you may miss important details or make careless mistakes in calculations or hands-on work; if you overemphasize sensing, you may rely too much on memorization and familiar methods and not concentrate enough on understanding and innovative thinking.
• Sensors often like solving problems by well-established methods and dislike complications and surprises
• Sensing learners tend to like learning facts
• Sensors are more likely to resent being tested on material that has not been explicitl covered in class.
• Sensors tend to be patient with details and good at memorizing facts and doing hands-on (laboratory) work
• Sensors don’t like courses that have no apparent connection to the real world
• Sensors remember and understand information best if they can see how it connects to the real world. If you are in a class where most of the material is abstract and theoretical,you may have difficulty. Ask your instructor for specific examples of concepts and procedures, and find out how the concepts apply in practice. If the teacher does not provide enough specifics, try to find some in your course text or other references or by brainstorming with friends or classmates.
• Intuitive learners often prefer discovering possibilities and relationships.
• Intuitors like innovation and dislike repetition.
• Intuitors may be better at grasping new concepts and are often more comfortable than sensors with abstractions and mathematical formulations.
• intuitors don’t like “plug-and-chug” courses that involve a lot of memorization and routine calculations. Which best describes you?
• If you are an intuitor and you happen to be in a class that deals primarily with memorization and rote substitution in formulas, you may have trouble with boredom. Ask your instructor for interpretations or theories that link the facts, or try to find the
connections yourself. You may also be prone to careless mistakes on test because you are impatient with details and don’t like repetition (as in checking your completed solutions). Take time to read the entire question before you start answering and be sure
to check your results
Again, review what your child does during learning time at home and at school to identify ways she could make her environment work better for her.
Sequential vs. Global Learners
People who have a preference for global learning are concerned with the whole meaningand the end results. They need to start with an overview of the big picture before they deal with details and facts. People who prefer sequential style of learning prefer to learn one detail at a time in a meaningful sequence. Once they know all the parts, they put them together and comprehend the big picture. Which do you prefer?
Tips for Sequential Learners
• Sequential learners tend to gain understanding in linear steps, with each step following logically from the previous one.
• Sequential learners tend to follow logical stepwise paths in finding solutions;
• Sequential learners may not fully understand the material but they can nevertheless do something with it (like solve the homework problems or pass the test) since the pieces they have absorbed are logically connected.
• Sequential learners may know a lot about specific aspects of a subject but may have trouble relating them to different aspects of the same subject or to different subjects.
• If you are a sequential learner and you have an instructor who jumps around from topic to topic or skips steps, you may have difficulty following and remembering. Ask the instructor to fill in the skipped steps, provide an outline of topics to be covered at the beginning of class or fill them in yourself by consulting references. When you are studying, take the time to outline the lecture material for yourself in logical order. In the long run doing so will save you time. You might also try to strengthen your global thinking skills by relating each new topic you study to things you already know. The more you can do so, the deeper your understanding of the topic is likely to be.
Tips for Global Learners
• Global learners tend to learn in large jumps, absorbing material almost randomly without seeing connections, and then suddenly “getting it.”
• Global learners may be able to solve complex problems quickly or put things together in novel ways once they have grasped the big picture, but they may have difficulty explaining how they did it.
• Strongly global learners may have serious difficulties until they have the big picture. Even after they have it, they may be fuzzy about the details of the subject.
• If you are a global learner, just recognizing that you aren’t slow or stupid but simply function differently from most of your classmates can help a great deal. However, there are some steps you can take that may help you get the big picture more quickly.
• Before you begin to study the first section of a chapter in a text, skim through the entire chapter to get an overview. Doing so may be time-consuming initially but it may save you from going over and over individual parts later. Instead of spending a short time on every subject every night, you might find it more productive to immerse yourself in individual subjects for large blocks.
• Try to relate the subject to things you already know, either by asking the instructor to help you see connections or by consulting references.
• Above all, don’t lose faith in yourself; you will eventually understand the new material, and once you do your understanding of how it connects to other topics and disciplines may enable you to apply it in ways that most sequential thinkers would never dream of.
My son is a global learner. You might as well hang it up if you are going to try to teach him the “building blocks” before showing him what he can do with them. He was this way with math, phonics and, well just about everything else. Once he learned about space, then he started wanting to know about numbers and distances and speed…you have to learn addition before you can do that stuff. Likewise, once he discovered books on space and dinosaurs he quickly saw the benefit in learning phonics so he could read on his own. That is only the first part though. He still was never going to learn well by rote memorization. He learned his phonics by reading. Slowly, steadily reading. He would read a page then his father or I would read it fluently so he actually understood it. The same with math. He is not fond of just doing drills, but if he has to solve equations to win a mission, beat me at Math War or something else, then he is unstoppable.
Other suggestions to take away the mundane
Make flashcards out of index cards and play trivial pursuit or Jeopardy
For math, comparing quantities and alphabetizing, we play the card game war. (obviously one subject at a time)
Create a new game. Get round and rectangular stickers, some poster board, index cards and dice and go to town making up your own game.