Whether you are a teacher, a home educator or a parent who simply wants to understand your child’s learning, familiarising yourself with the four primary learning styles can make a massive difference to how we support and offer education.
Different people learn in different ways – when it comes to teaching, there is no one-size-fits-all method. The four primary learning styles are visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic and, with all four styles prevalent in any learning experience, a delivery that caters to every style is important.
Visual Learning Style
Visual learners learn best through images and videos – even better if you can demonstrate a practice for the learner to watch. A good example of this regularly takes place in science lessons through experiments, which also cater to kinaesthetic learners.
Either the teacher or other students conduct an experiment, clearly outlining each step and, through this, visual learns to grasp the concept of what they are being taught much better than reading in a textbook. Any parent that has a visual learner as a child will do well to demonstrate where possible as opposed to talking at them or asking the child to read a passage of text.
Auditory Learning Style
As opposed to visual learners, that learn best by watching and overseeing, auditory learners learn best via verbal communication. This may mean that the learner takes in information better in a discussion environment, where ideas are spoken about and various questions are answered within a group.
By giving the opportunity for the learner to ask questions, which is not something they can do with a book or video, this can help to form a better understanding of what it is they are learning about. Parents of auditory learners may find that their children respond better to discussing ideas and working through any issues or tasks in a verbal manner.
Reading/Writing Learning Style
Somewhat considered to be the ‘traditional’ form of learning, it wasn’t so long ago that schools catered almost exclusively to reading and writing learners, who are more than happy to work from textbooks. This, however, does mean that while these types of learners thrive from reading and writing activities, they might struggle with lecture-based learning such as when the teacher speaks to the class as a whole.
Whether you approach a reading and writing learner as a parent or as a teacher, it can be difficult finding the right balance between supported and independent learning, especially at a younger age where guidance can be needed. If you make the time to create helpful notes and activities that support your lesson plan, this is a great way to assist any reading and writing learner.
Kinaesthetic Learning Style
In many ways, kinaesthetic learners are a lot like visual learners in the way that they prefer active learning, rather than sitting and listening to a teacher talk or working from a textbook. However, the main difference is that while visual learners prefer to watch on, kinaesthetic learners adopt a more hands-on approach.
Going back to the science experiment example, this is where kinaesthetic learners thrive as they actively perform what it is they are learning, and where home education really comes into it’s own as there’s little we can’t access, but it is certainly something that anyone in a teaching job in Cambridgeshire, or the UK as a whole, can consider.
These are just the four primary styles of learning and this doesn’t mean to say that all visual learners are the same or that all auditory learners are the same, or even that they don’t also benefit from other learning styles – often learning styles can overlap, and identifying how your child learns can make a huge difference in how they feel about learning.