Often, we may see our child struggle with a particular topic or subject in school or tuition. Rather than thinking dismissively (‘he is just not a Science person’), an alternative way of approaching it would be to identify your child’s learner type. And then to calibre the study materials to suit his or her learner needs. To correctly identify the learner type, what parents can do is to sit alongside your child whilst going through some studying materials. When teaching, observe how he/she responds to the content. Let us delve into the different behaviours according to each learner type.
At a young age, an auditory learner would find themselves repeating words and phrases after a parent has read aloud to them. At a slightly older age, he/she would have the tendency to read out loud the content that they are reading. When they struggle with a Math tuition centre question, you will notice that they verbally express what they do not understand at length. Auditory learners do all this because they internalise information better when it is reinforced by sound. A simple way parents can cater to an auditory learner child is to get them to explain concepts by quizzing on what they have read: “Can you explain this to me? Why do we add, instead of subtracting here? What do you understand after reading this?” When in school or attending tuition class, parents can remind their child to “listen closely to what the teacher has to say”. Video materials or online tuition webcasts or videos would greatly benefit them, as they can replay the audio until they have internalised the information properly.
Visual learners are characterised by using visual cues to stimulate their thinking. They are usually drawn to Art, and have a penchant for drawing, painting and the likes. In children, they may be enamoured by pictures in books and may pore over the details extendedly. Visual learners are by far the most common learner types, comprising almost 65% of all learner types. Perhaps it is no surprise then that primary schools and Math tuition centres introduce model drawing to solve Math word problems. For visual learners, drawing out diagrams like flow charts, diagrams and pictures can greatly help link difficult, abstract concepts together. This applies greatly for subjects like Science. In Primary School students, drawing out characters and explaining concepts is a useful approach. There are several assessment books with ‘comic-books’ style that should prove beneficial for visual learners.
The word ‘kinaesthetic’ traces its origins to the Greek word ‘kinein’ (which means ‘to move’) and ‘aisthēsis’ (which means ‘sensation’). Kids tend to be a more kinaesthetic type when they are younger, around the ages of 4-7. At such a young age, they are curious about everything, and enjoy learning when they can touch and feel objects. This is not to say older children cannot be kinaesthetic learners: they would definitely excel in hands-on things like conducting Science experiments in the lab. When transitioning to higher levels, parents can consider buying educational games, like flash cards, that allow them to directly interact with them to reinforce their learning. Alternatively, for subjects like English, parents can encourage their children to act out what is happening in the book.
With that, we have learnt the main 3 learner types found in children, with the next 2 explored in a future article. What parents may notice from the article is that your child’s learner type may change over the years. Bearing this in mind, it is thus important to keep attuned to your child’s behaviour while studying. Does he/she seem restless? Is he/she still not grasping the concept even after explaining it for the umpteenth time? If the answer is ‘yes’, then it may be because the current learning approach is not working and not suiting his/her learner needs.