‘Learning Styles’ and How They Influence a Child’s Personality
If someone had asked me what kind of learner I was and asked me to explain myself a few decades ago, I would have been seeing stars or blinked my eyes at them blankly. The fact is that when I was a student, there wasn’t much importance given to the nuances of learning, the finer aspects of individual identity that each student possessed. As students we were all clubbed together, taught the same thing, our needs and capacity for learning judged at the same level and were pushed to deliver on par with everyone else. It of course wasn’t the fault of the teachers, but the education system itself.
Cut to the present day, and although there hasn’t been much changes in the education system, there is much more attention given to students today – their behavior, attention span, learning capacity and individual grasp of studies – being observed, assessed, worked on and given attention.
With my irrational devouring of any books I could lay my hands on, it was therefore a chance instance when I came across a book in my college library detailing how individuals differ from each other, and how their individuality impacts the way they perceive the environment and absorb from it.
It was a ‘light bulb’ moment for me! Suddenly the pieces of the puzzle fell in place, the understanding of how I loved to draw and explain to myself things that no teacher could convey. It also clarified the confusion I felt and difficultly I had in grasping certain subjects, mathematics being particularly painful.
The concept of me being a ‘Visual Learner’ was startling, and using that, I have since tried and worked my way around several different concepts and subjects that appeared only Greek and Latin to me till then.
Imagine if we were to understand this and apply it to our children, see things from their perspective, learn their method of understanding concepts and approach it accordingly….imagine how beautifully they will learn and grow and develop and achieve their full potential?
For people who haven’t ever heard of this before, every individual has his or her own style of learning. People can be different TYPES OF LEARNERS. This isn’t empty theory, but has been scientifically researched and studied.
The ‘VARK model‘ is a proven theory identified by Dr.Neil Fleming in the 80’s, that indicates the type of learning styles we fall into.
While many individuals dip into a bit of everything, they are usually predisposed to a specific learning style, one they will lean towards as they grow and try understanding concepts. Identifying a child’s learning style early and working on it, will help hone the child’s individuality better, help reduce frustration in grasping subjects and in turn help them reach their full potential.
As explained by Larry Spence in his ‘Getting Over learning Styles‘,
“Every teacher encounters students who seem to learn in unexpected ways. Every student sometimes gets stumped by methods that work for everybody else…Neuroscientists agree that every brain is unique—more singular in structure than DNA or fingerprints.”
learn concepts, whether in art, science or maths clearly when the information is presented to them in the form of pictorial representations – pictures, diagrams, cue cards being a few. Children who lean towards the visual medium, grasp concepts which are vibrant, colorful and rich in imagery. They are great at capturing images, remember things by sight, picture it in their head and like to see what they learn. They do well with material explained on charts, blackboard or the computer.
On the flipside, such learners have difficulty understanding spoken instructions, get bored easily and get distracted by sounds.
Below are a few methods that parents/teachers can help visual learners learn better,
- Place the child in a place where they can see what is being done
- Check eyesight of the child regularly
- Use flashcards whenever possible to show them new words
- Try to explain in a visually descriptive manner, concepts and ideas
- Make the child jot down key words, instructions and ideas
- Draw pictures wherever possible to explain new concepts
- Color code things
- Encourage the child to draw his understanding of the concept
process auditory cues faster. When information is given to them in clear and concise explanations, they find it easier to grasp and retain memory. Voice modulations, clear articulation of words and sounds and association of words with objects make them god learners. Children who are auditory learners, depend heavily on what they hear and it is therefore important to elaborate a concept as much as possible together with visual cues.
These learners often hum or talk to themselves despite being fully attentive and present, but may sometimes be distracted by very visual imagery.
Below are a few methods that parents/teachers can help auditory learners learn better,
- Place the child in a place where they can hear what is being said
- Check hearing of the child regularly
- Use flashcards wherever possible and read from them or make the child do it loudly
- Read books, stories, assignments and directions out loud.
- Record passages from books or for an older child, make them read and record the same and listen to the recording when done
- Read out test questions loudly and make the child answer them verbally too
- Ensure whatever learning material is used is explained and repeated often to the child, very audibly
need to understand and imbibe information for them to retain it. These learners depend heavily on practical association. By physically handling a subject such as performing a science experiment or solving a mathematical problem on their own, they familiarize themselves with a particular subject. They are hands-on, love touching, moving, building and breaking. Tactile children may not use the same methods they have been taught, yet do it in the best way that they understand, something that pictorial and auditory learners cannot perform.
Tactile learners are very active, restless, use much gesturing and are well coordinated, but may lack listening or visual skills. They also tend to welcome physical forms of appreciation such as pat on the back or ruffling of hair.
Below are a few methods that parents/teachers can help tactile learners learn better,
- Such learners need to be involved in activities that include building, moving, touching and drawing
- Hands-on activities such as art projects, skits and building sets keep them engaged
- They are restless and tend to move around which makes their learning better
- Using flashcards and physically demonstrating the concept makes them learn faster
- Spelling and words can be finger traced
The infographic below gives a clearer understanding of how we can identify the type of learners and interact with them better,
Having understood the difference between learning types and their individual characteristics, it is also important to assess as early as possible what type of learner the child is, so as to ensure he/she gets the right kind of attention they deserve. Teachers must be attuned to observe this first hand and together with parents must attempt to understand the child better.
Mel Levine, MD, co-founder of All Kinds of Minds, a nonprofit institute for the study of learning differences, suggests that a child’s learning style can be evaluated at age 6 or 7. This is during the middle school years. Often a child’s behavioral pattern is tied into their learning style and this can also help in better understanding.
Schools are tuned in to address print, auditory and language learners only and therefore often lack an understanding of the importance of sensory perception in children. Parents therefore play an important role in assessing their children within the home. Often giving the child the right kind of tools to work with, can help them better their strengths which will also influence the kind of careers they are drawn towards in the future.
Among the many online tests to understand what kind of learning style your child leans towards, below are a few tested and proven ones,
- Vark Questionnaire for Young People
- Learning Quiz for Children – Find out what kind of learner your child is, plus possible careers and homework helpers that will meet his specific needs
- Learning Styles in Young Children – This article will help you to diagnose your preschooler’s learning style
- Myers-Briggs Personality Test. A detailed explanations of each of the 16 types here.
- Personality Type and Learning Style – This is specifically for homeschoolers. It talks about how to teach each type of personality (introvert and extrovert, sensing and intuitive, thinking and feeling, judging and perceiving).
- Determining Myers-Briggs Score Without a Test – This will help you to determine a Myers-Briggs score for your young child who is too little for taking a test herself.
Every child is unique, everyone of them will grow to follow their chosen career path and use their inherent talents. Often, during their little years, parents and the school system overlook the struggle of the child in their studies and their ways of coping with the education system. By the time it is understood and remedial measures are undertaken to bring the child up to mark, it becomes too late. Constantly observing children, finding out their personality traits and understanding their learning styles can help us help them cope better.