Ever have difficulty helping your children understand their homework? Do your children ever try to convince you that it’s easier to study with the TV or music blaring? Or with friends over? Well … they may be right! It all depends on their learning style.
You likely already know something about learning styles–the idea that people learn in different ways, and that we all have preferences as to how we learn best. But most discussions focus solely on whether a person is an auditory learner (likes to hear things), visual learner (likes pictures or diagrams) or a kinesthetic learner (needs to move / be active in order to learn). However, I recently ran across the book, Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis & Victoria Kindle Hodson which greatly expands the most common definition of learning styles by offering parents and educators not one but five aspects by which we can better define how our children learn best. They include:
Disposition. This is the part of their personalities which seems hard-wired, more inborn than developed, and therefore is often very hard to change. According to the authors, all of us are inclined to act in a certain way, and therefore prefer to learn through different types of activities. For example, you might like to:
- Perform – move and be active
- Produce – organize thoughts and ideas
- Invent – learn through discovery
- Relate/inspire – interact with others
- Think/create – create things and ideas
Talents. These are activities that come easily to us. For example some people excel in math, logic, or working with words, while others have talents in the areas of music, humour, or body coordination.
Interests. These are what we enjoy doing, and do not necessarily correspond with our talents. Sometimes we have a talent, but are not interested in pursuing it. Other times we are interested in something but are quite bad at it.
Modality. This is the most common type of learning style described in literature today, describing how we like to access new information and ideas–through hearing (auditory), sight (visual), or through touch or movement (tactile-kinesthetic).
Environment. In what type of environment do you like to work and learn? This might include examining the lighting (bright, low, sunlight, etc), sound levels (quiet, noisy, music or people talking), body position (sitting, standing, lying down, etc.), temperature, and level of interaction with others (like being alone, with others, with a pet, etc.). Other environmental factors that can affect how we best learn can include how hungry or thirsty we are, the time of day (related to our energy levels), and even if we are around our favourite or least favourite colours.
The Implications …
For students. Helping your children to better understanding their styles & preferences can empower them to make better choices when it comes to studying and/or talking to their teachers about how they learn best.
For parents. Looking at your children’s learning preferences through an expanded lens can help you to better understand and advocate for them at school. It can also help to inform you about how best to assist your kids with homework and studies without imposing your own preferences upon them.
About the author
Ready to give your child a head start on success? Check out Rob’s coaching programs, workshops, and newsletter for parents and youth. Visit www.YouthCoachCanada.com or call 905.515.9822.
An award-winning educator and Parenting & Youth Coach, Rob Stringer BA, BEd, CPC has spent almost two decades helping kids, teens, and adults meet with success, and live lives they LOVE! Although based outside of Toronto, Rob’s coaching practice is global with teen and adult clients around the world.