Understanding your child’s learning style is crucial to ensuring that your child is able to study effectively and efficiently. Every child has a different learning style and is able to understand and remember information in different ways.
According to teach.com, a child’s ‘learning style’ refers to the ‘preferential way in which the student absorbs, processes, comprehends and retains information’. Finding out your child’s learning style can help you to develop strategies and study plans that would suit your child best.
Since there are different learning styles, following the general studying tips will not be helpful for your child as every child learns and studies differently. Understanding your child’s learning style allows you to better cater the study strategies to his needs and what works best for him.
How does your child learn?
First, you need to know what type of a learner your child is. VARK is one of the most accepted understanding of learning styles by an educational theorist Neil Fleming where there are 4 categories: Visual Learners, Auditory Learners, Read/Write Learners and Kinesthetic Learners. Your child may have done a quiz in school to find out what his learning style is. Otherwise, there is a quiz available online which can be found here. However, the quiz does not include the reading/writing learning style.
Another way you could try to identify your child’s learning style is through observing the way he processes and comprehends new information given to him.
Visual learners tend to look and observe the world around them, preferring to look at pictures, diagrams, written directions etc. They doodle, make lists and take notes to process and understand information better.
Auditory learners drift towards sound. They would rather listen to a lecture rather than reading notes. They like to read aloud in order to understand new concepts, tend to be more outspoken and are better able to articulate and explain ideas and concepts. They may also be slower in reading as compared to their peers.
Reading/Writing learners are able to learn best through written words and visual learning. They enjoy reading, writing in diaries, looking up words in the dictionary or just reading up on anything they may find interesting on the Internet.
Kinesthetic learners learn through experiencing and doing things. Using touch can help them understand better and they act out events in order to experience them. They are less able to sit still and need to take more frequent breaks when studying. Moving around and understanding things by using their senses and actions work best for them.
Finding out your child’s learning style allows your child to better understand the concepts he is taught in school, being able to better process the information and retain it. Understanding the content taught in school well will prepare your child for any question that may come out in the examinations. Even if it is not a question he is familiar with, he is able to be flexible in his thinking and is better equipped to take on higher-order thinking questions.
Here are some study strategies according to the different learning styles that you can try with your child.
If your child is a visual learner, he is able to absorb and understand information that is presented visually. To help your child study better, you can try to reinforce and support his learning in school with charts, diagrams, written words and pictures. He could use mind maps to condense the information and colour to aid in memory retention. Highlighting important keywords would bring more attention to more important information.
Visual learners do well with notes and pictures to process verbal information. Your child should have images in his notes to explain different concepts and ideas. Aesthetically beautiful visuals will help to attract his attention and he is more likely to remember the information later on. Doodling the topic he is learning in school may help him to better understand and process the content. Ensure that your child’s study environment is quiet as he may be easily distracted or annoyed by noise such as music or talking.
Your child enjoys learning through lectures and discussions. He is better able to process verbal information and talk through things in order to understand them. Compared to conventional study strategies, your child does not need to be completely quiet in order to study. Instead, reading his notes out loud could help him better absorb and process the information. He could even record it and listen to it later to help in memory retention.
You could engage in discussions with him on the content he is learning in school, asking him questions and getting him to explain the concepts to you verbally. This keeps him engaged and ensures that he fully understands the content he is learning.
Watching videos and using music can hold his attention better rather than reading written notes. However, do take note to limit distractions and background noise. Playing some soft music while studying may help him in his concentration.
Does your child enjoy reading and would rather refer to words than pictures to understand? Reading/Writing learners should be able to cope well with all the written assignments and essays in school. They absorb information the best when reading written words and enjoy writing essays. Your child processes information most efficiently by writing notes and reading up on the topic.
One strategy for your child is for him to rewrite his notes to aid memory and understanding of the content taught in school. Rewording the content according to his preferences could assist in him attaining a deeper understanding.
Since he is best able to process written information, diagrams and charts can be converted into written statements for his understanding.
Kinesthetic learners learn best through tactile processes. They prefer to be more active when studying, needing to move around and act it out in order to process and remember information. Movement can be utilised as a strategy in studying: pacing while studying, learning games that involve moving and writing. They process information better by writing it down and doing hands-on activities that stimulate their sense of touch or involve movement. If they have any personal experiences, they are more likely to remember it better for a longer time.
Real-life examples and case studies may help your child to understand concepts that are more abstract. You could get your child to write his notes multiple times to help him memorise better, highlighting and underlining key points. As your child may prefer to be more active while studying, he should take more frequent study breaks.
Doing hands-on activities can help to retain his attention for a longer time and keep him engaged.
Do take note that your child may not necessarily have just one learning style so do try out and experiment with these different study strategies to see what works best for him.