April 2018
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    Learning styles: What are they?

    All of us learn through our senses AND through the senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and feeling, We use these to gather information. We interact with our environment using these senses. We look at things, hear things, touch them, taste them or feel them to try and understand them. This information that we get from our senses is then sent to the brain.

    For example, we look at a lemon see that it is yellow and round, touch it and know that it is smooth, taste it and realize that it is sour. This information is then sent to the brain where it is processed. Then it is put away in the brain and stored till it is required. All this information that we gathered from our senses has helped us learn what a lemon is and what its properties are. When we
    Then when we come across a lemon again, we know that it is a lemon, because we remember when we see it that it is round and yellow, smooth to the touch, has a citric smell and tastes sour.

    However, each individual takes information in different ways from the environment. Some people use one sense; say for example, sight, more that they do hearing. That means they prefer to look at things and learn about them rather than listening to information about them. Each of us has a different way of learning and we have to try and discover this style of learning on our children to help them become more efficient and more effective learners.

    Early in life, a baby rnakes sense of his environment by picking up things and putting them in his mouth. At his stage, his sense of touch and taste are the strongest means of understanding the world. These, taste and touch are the modalities, which are the stronger channels of learning.

    As we grow older we rely less on our sense of taste. Other channels of learning become more acute and stronger, such as the sense of vision, hearing and movement. We begin to rely more on these to get information and to learn. Often One sense becomes stronger the others.

    This is the sense (or senses) that we use to learn. For instance some of us may be better at remembering information when it is presented visually, and some of us may do better if we listen to information. This becomes our channel or modality of learning. This becomes our learning style.

    How do you know the learning style of your child? What are the signs to look for? What will give you clues as to what modality your child prefers?

    There are three basic styles of learning.

    • visual,
    • auditory and
    • kinesthetic (movement)  

    Children with a visual learning style, learn by looking at pictures, seeing things, watching demonstrations.

    Children with an auditory style of learning, learn by listening to others and to themselves.

    Children with a kinesthetic style of learning learn by doing, by touching and by using movement.

    A child, whose style of learning is visual AND where the sense of sight is used, likes to read things. This is the child who recognizes spellings from the way they look. He has a good name for faces, but may not be able to remember names. This child will watch a speaker’s face, and / or try to take notes while listening to a teacher. This kind of learner watches people’s faces to gauge their emotions. A child with a strong visual mode of learning focuses on details and sees things as a whole. This child makes lists to remember what has to be done. He looks around and tries to remember details of what has been seen. When not involved in any activity, this child doodles / draws / sketches.

    The visual learner prefers to write down telephone numbers and e-mail addresses to remember them, directions to a destination need to be written, or a diagrammatic map would help, just hearing these is not enough. Watching a movie or TV is an activity that the visual child prefers to hearing a story or listening to music. Imagery is mental in a visual learner; the child has a detailed, vivid imagination. In a new situation, a child with a visual mode of learning looks around and figures out what to do. Visual stimuli distract the child.

    What helps your visual child to learn?

    The visual learning child learns best when he is allowed to draw what he is learning. Encourage your child to make diagrams, note down points, highlight his work, colour code, important points, make notes in the margin underline important facts and make lists. Content material can be broken up into “chunks” so that the material is visually separated into segments. These techniques help the visual learner to learn better.

     When teaching spelling, the words can be broken up in syllables, with a gap between each syllable. Syllables can be colour coded. Encourage the child to make flow charts for science, maps for geography, and timelines for history, posters for literature and for poems. Encourage the child to make all study material as visual as possible. Remember that this visual child remembers and understands information better if he has read it. He learns by seeing it on paper.

    The auditory child is the one who likes to learn by listening to things. Telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and verbal directions are understood and remembered quickly, This child enjoys plays and listening to dialogue. While working, he vocalizes what he is doing. When not doing anything in particular or when bored, the auditory learner will hum or sing softly to himself or talk to others. While spelling, this child uses phonic rules to sound out words and understands the sounds that go to make up a word. The child with a strong auditory modality of learning has a good memory for names, but cannot remember faces. This child repeats things to himself to remember them. Sounds distract the child. In a new situation, the child talks aloud and deliberates on the pros and cons. listening to music is a favored activity. Things are perceived as a whole, rather than in it are component parts. Auditory stimuli can distract this child.

    What are some of the techniques that you can use to help your auditory child learn?

    This child needs an auditory input while studying. So let him read aloud when studying. If he finds reading difficult, then you, the parent, read out aloud to your child. This child needs to be able to hear information to be able to understand it and to be able to remember it and to recall it when needed. This child needs to repeat things and to hear his voice when studying. The child memorizes by repeating out aloud. Multiplication tables and content material in various subjects will be best learned when they are put to music, chants, poems, etc. This technique has worked very successfully on children. Teach history through dialogue, through conversations between historical figures. Encourage this child to talk aloud the steps in a science experiment, to verbalize the steps in a multi-tiered mathematical problem. Sometimes having quiet background music helps this child to concentrate while studying. Ask the child, if this would help. Remember that the auditory child learns by hearing words spoken.

    The child, who has a kinesthetic style of learning, is the child who is always moving and always doing things. This child takes things apart and puts them together. The kinesthetic child enjoys constructing things. He is interested in how things work. He is inquisitive as to how things are built and will take objects apart to see how they fit together. This child learns through manipulating materials.

     The child with a strong kinesthetic modality of learning fidgets while reading, is not a great reader and prefers stories which have action and where the action in the story comes at an early stage. Listening a long time to things, and activities that involve a lot of dialogue are not favoured activities of this child. When spelling, this child will write and rewrite words to see if the “feel” of the word is right. This child remembers things best when he does them himself.

    The child with a strong kinesthetic style of learning fidgets and squirms when there is a period of inactivity. This child gestures while speaking and responds to new situations by touching, feeling, trying things out and manipulating things.
    Teach spelling to this kinesthetic child by tracing and writing over words. If the words have a texture to them, for instance, if the words are made out of sandpaper, the learning will be stronger. This child will learn spelling better by writing words on his desk with a finger, writing words on parents’ backs, essentially by using movement and touch. Doing experiments in science, using manipulative and blocks for mathematics, measuring angles in geometry of objects such as tables and chairs will reinforce learning. Spelling can also be taught by having this child manipulate blocks that have letters written on them.

    Other learning styles have to be kept in mind also. These refer to whether your child is an individual learner or a group learner. If your child is a group leaner, then your child prefers to study with at least one other child. For the group learner, the amalgamation of people and the interaction helps to increase learning. Socializing is important to your child. This child values the opinions of others.
    Is your child an individual learner? If so, your child gets more work done when learning on his own. This child prefers to come up with solutions on his own.

    Bindu sharma



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