Children's Learning Styles

Understanding my son's learning style has helped me understand him better and assisted me in reinforcing skills he needs to succeed in school.

June Griswold, a classroom teacher for 16 years, shared her research into the ways children learn with me. She believes that identifying learning styles and adapting lessons can motivate students and eliminate unfair labeling -- learning differences do not necessarily translate into learning disabilities.

June recommends two books as references -- "Awakening Your Child's Natural Genius" and "In Their Own Way", both by Thomas Armstrong. She groups learning styles into four, major categories -- spatial visual, kinetic or movement, language-oriented, and logical/analytical. Children can use a mixture of learning styles or be dominant in one. A child with diverse learning styles is usually a more flexible learner.

See if you can recognize your own child's style(s) from the following descriptions. Then adapt summer forays into learning, accommodating individual style. Share helpful information with your child's teacher when school starts. Remember all children work well with hands-on activities and manipulative.

SPATIAL VISUAL LEARNER -- Needs and likes to visualize things; learns through images; enjoys art and drawing; reads maps, charts and diagrams well; fascinated with machines and inventions; plays with legos; likes mazes and puzzles. Often accused of being a daydreamer in class. MOTIVATING TIPS -- Use board games and memory devices to create visual patterns. In reading suggest visual clues. Offer picture books of all types; when reading chapter books together, encourage visualization of story and scenes at intervals. Promote writing via colored pens, computer or drawing.

KINETIC LEARNER -- Processes knowledge through physical sensations; highly active, not able to sit still long; communicates with body language and gestures. Shows you rather than tells you; needs to touch and feel world; good at mimicking others; likes scary amusement rides; naturally athletic and enjoys sports. Often labeled with attention deficient disorder. MOTIVATING TIPS -- Physical action is the key ingredient to stimulating this student. While reading, let child chew gum, walk around, rock or ride stationary bicycle. Use numerous hands-on activities and experiments, art projects, nature walks or acting out stories.

LANGUAGE-ORIENTED LEARNER -- Thinks in words, verbalizes concepts; spins tales and jokes; spells words accurately and easily. Can be a good reader or prefer the spoken word more; has excellent memory for names, dates and trivia; likes word games; enjoys using tape recorders and often musically talented. MOTIVATING TIPS -- Encourage creation of own word problems. Have child dictate a story to you and watch while you write it or type it out on a word processor -- then child can share it with you. Read aloud together and tape session for later playback. Consider purchasing some book/tape selections.

LOGICAL LEARNER -- Thinks conceptually, likes to explore patterns and relationships; enjoys puzzles and seeing how things work; constantly questions and wonders; capable of highly abstract forms of logical thinking at early age; computes math problems quickly in head; enjoys strategy games, computers and experiments with purpose; creates own designs to build with blocks/legos. MOTIVATING TIPS -- Do science experiments together and have child record results; use computer learning games and word puzzles. Offer context clues as a reading aid. Introduce non-fiction and rhyming books. When reading fiction, discuss relation of story to real-life situations and people.