Learning Styles - Which One is Your Child?

Learning styles is a term that refers to different ways in which we learn, process and retain information.  There are many models and theories about learning styles. This particular system about an individual’s learning preference is known as VARK.  It is one of the most widely used categorisations of learning styles.  

What are the learning styles?

The VARK model identifies 4 main learning preferences used for learning information, including: Visual, Aural/Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic/ Sensory.

VISUAL 

A visual learner is the most common type of learning style.  When information is presented in written form or visually through diagrams, graphs or pictures the student retains more information.  Visual learners can also be very good with spatial thinking and recalling images or places in their minds.   When it comes to listening or reading, visual learners do better if the speaker or text includes imagery that they can imagine. If they can visualize what a speaker is talking about, they can better retain that knowledge.

Learning strategies:

  • Highlight important points in text; key words
  • Create flashcards for key information; be concise
  • Limit amount of words/information; allows for mental imagery
  • Convert notes and translate words into symbols, diagrams, and/or pictures
  • Create visual reminders of information
  • Practice turning visuals back into words
  • Color-code, underline, and/or highlight information
  • Be creative with charts, diagrams, graphs and mind maps


AURAL/AUDITORY

As an auditory learner, this child gains understanding when s/he hears instructions or information verbally.  Auditory learners retain knowledge best through hearing information rather than seeing it.  Auditory learners are very good at repeating information back once they've heard it. They tend to be good at noticing people's inflection and tone or subtle changes in their language. Auditory learners are good at picking up language, verbal communication and retaining long lectures. They can also be fantastic storytellers.

Learning strategies:

  • Work in groups or with a study partner; i.e. discussions: listening, talking
  • Review assignments and text reading before class
  • Read notes and text out loud
  • Recite information that is important to remember
  • Record notes, key information, and lectures; listen to recordings regularly
  • Use books-on-tape, podcasts etc
  • State the problem out loud
  • Think through a process or sequence of steps: write out, then read out loud
  • Discuss questions/problems in a group or with a study-buddy


READ/WRITE

People who excel at the verbal part of learning differ from visual learners because they are not discouraged by long texts. Verbal learners love language, whether written or spoken.  People who are verbal learners are very good at absorbing information through the written word. They can take in vast amounts of complex written words and condense it into more easily digestible information.

Learning strategies:

  • Rewrite notes
  • Read/review notes every day
  • Rewrite ideas and principles into other words  
  • Organise diagrams/graphs into statements
  • Turn reactions, actions, charts, etc. into words
  • Write exam answers
  • Practice with multiple choice questions
  • Write paragraphs, beginnings and endings
  • Write lists (a,b,c,1,2,3,4)  
  • Arrange words into hierarchies and points


KINESTHETIC/SENSORY

As a tactile/kinesthetic learner, this child learns best when there is movement or some sort of physical engagement involved during a lesson. This child enjoys hands-on experience where they can manipulate things in order to learn about it.   They tend to be coordinated and do well at activities like building, sports, art or drama. They also are adept at learning by watching someone else, and they're likely to have great motor skills and hand-eye coordination. 

Learning strategies:

  • Skim through reading material
  • Move around as you read aloud or
  • Record notes and listen to them
  • Take frequent study breaks
  • Listen to music while studying
  • Sit in the front of the classroom
  • Stay actively engaged in class: take notes,
  • Create hands-on learning when possible: use models, extra lab time, visit museums
  • Create cards for processes 
  • Type over notes from text and class  
  • Create spreadsheets, tables, charts to organise material


Although there may be a strong preference to one of the learning techniques, it’s also possible that there can be a combination of more than two learning techniques. Multiple learning preference are interesting and varied and finding the best method to manage them can be lead to the learner experiencing an exceptionally high quality of learning.

Identifying learning preferences according to the VARK model is a ‘short and simple inventory‘ that focuses on practicality and understanding. It therefore provides assistance to learn more effectively.   Discover your child's learning style now.  http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/


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