Think back to your grade school years. Do you remember your favorite teacher? Classroom? Best experiences? Chances are that if you have a fond memory of a teacher, it is because he or she taught to your learning style.
Now, think about your least favorite teacher, classroom and experiences. Do you remember not feeling welcomed? Inspired? Challenged? Chances are that your personal learning style did not match the teaching style.
If you are currently a parent of a grade school child, try to visit the classroom to observe the teacher. Does he or she differentiate the lessons based on how the students learn?
Basically, all children need this criteria in which to succeed:
– A welcoming environment – Does the teacher smile at the children, talk to them nicely and with respect?
– Are the lessons well planned? Does the teacher have a variety of ways to teach the concepts?
– Supplies: Is your children prepared to learn? Does he or she have sharpened pencils, folders, notebooks, etc? A child feels enormous stress when they feel unprepared.
-Adequate space – Does the child’s desk and seat fit them? Do they have enough room to maneuver at their desk? A child that is uncomfortable cannot learn properly.
As for the specific learning styles, your child fits into one or more categories. Usually, one is strongest. Think about how your child likes to learn as you read the following list.
Visual Learners: These children need to see things themselves to learn. A teacher who does lecturing, without visual props, such, as textbooks, overhead transparencies, or lively animation is a nightmare for visual learners. Moreover, this child likes to work independently, where he or she can read what they need to without auditory distraction. Most children are visual learners. Unfortunately, some teachers find it easiest to just talk to, (or at) the students. Therefore, the visual child will ‘tune out’ and not focus.
Auditory Learners: These children need to hear facts to learn. They would rather be told about facts, rather than read them. They like to work in groups where students share ideas with each other.
Tactile Learners: These children need to touch and manipulate things in order to fully grasp a concept. They need to be able to create, draw, and observe objects about the concept. Most times, a tactile learner has either visual or auditory tendencies as well, but mainly, they need to touch things to absorb facts.
Kinesthetic Learners: These kids need to move! Being required to sit at a desk is hard for them. They tap their pencils, wiggle a lot and need to touch things to learn. These learners are similar to tactile learners in the need to manipulate things to learn, but need more active outlets for learning.
Example: If the lesson for social studies is “To learn the causes for the United States Civil War”, a teacher who teaches to all learning styles would:
– Begin the lesson with an overview of the conflict. He or she would have written facts on the desks of all children. They would have highlighters on the desks too. The child would be able to either listen to the discussion (auditory) read about it on their own (visual), or highlight the main facts as the teacher discusses the lesson (tactile / kinesthetic). After the teacher finishes teaching the concept, he or she can give them an activity to do that shows they understand the concept. If he or she doesn’t allow them to show their knowledge in their learning style way – your child will not do well on the task. Listed below are some examples of what an effective teacher would do:
-Visual learner – “Use your textbook, encyclopedia, and other sources to read about the Civil War. Pay attention to pictures, captions and text. List the facts you learned on a piece of tag board.
– Auditory Learner – “Work in a group of four to discuss the causes of the Civil War. Use the headphones at the listening station for additional information, if needed. Create a presentation to the class that shows what you learned. This could be an interview, debate, or lecture.”
– Tactile Learner – “Use drawing paper, colored pencils, markers, etc. to create a poster that shows the causes of the Civil War. Or make a diorama of the North and the South by using clay, paints or other mixed media.
-Kinesthetic Learner – “Act out a scene from a play that could be written about the Civil War. You may use music and other props to go with the movements.”
Other ideas could be for a child with multiple styles:
-write a song or a poem about the causes of the war
-research the best books for kids you age about the causes of the war – share your list with the media specialist.
In conclusion, your child needs to be taught to his or her strengths. While activities like the ones above cannot occur every lesson, they should be done a few times a week so that your child feels confident and valued as a student.