Your child is more likely to want to learn if he uses the learning style that feels most natural and makes the most sense—to him. Help him figure out, and use, his best learning style.
Does your child learn best by:
• Hearing, such as listening to a talk or a book on tape? If so, he may be an auditory learner. He enjoys music and hearing stories. He can probably follow oral directions very well. He is comfortable talking. He would probably prefer spelling his words aloud to the teacher to taking a written quiz.
• Seeing, such as reading a book or a graph? If so, he may be a visual learner. He appreciates artwork, movies and the live theater. He can probably follow a map like a pro. He likes to have something written on paper to back up oral lessons. He would probably prefer studying a chart of the times tables to repeating them out loud with the class.
• Doing, such as building a model or preparing a chart? If so, he may be a kinesthetic learner. He loves to move, making recess and exercise critical parts of his school day. He would much rather participate than sit and watch. He likes using his hands to create things. He is probably much happier during his hands-on science lab than he is during the theory lesson that preceded it.
Auditory learners feel motivated and engaged when they can incorporate more listening into schoolwork. Here are good ways to motivate an auditory learner:
• Have your child record himself reading a chapter out loud. Then review by listening to it.
• Use rhymes, songs, and associative words (letters or words that make you think of other words) to remember facts. Example: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas to remember Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
• Have him ask friends and family members to give you an oral quiz or listen to you recite math facts.
• When assigned to read fiction, suggest that he see if a book on tape is available. He can follow along in the book as he listens.
• Suggest that he “talk himself” through a problem. “Let’s see, multiply and divide before you add and subtract. So the first thing I need to do is multiply two times six .”
Visual learners feel more motivated and engaged when they can incorporate more seeing into their schoolwork. Here are some ways to motivate a visual learner:
• Help him use color wherever possible. Take notes using different colored pens. Write spelling words and key concepts in “rainbow style”—write each word three times, first in red, then in orange, then in blue. Highlight important passages in stand-out tones, such as bright pink.
• When reading a text, suggest that he first go through and look at all the pictures, charts, graphs and diagrams in the chapter. Which points are they illustrating? Suggest that he use the illustrations to reinforce what he is reading.
• Help him make a study wall. Each week, help him make a poster of something he needs to learn and post it in that spot. Have him refer to it often.
• Flashcards are great for visual learners. Suggest that he use them for math facts, vocabulary words, anything he needs to memorize.
• Talk with him about staying attentive during oral presentations by watching the speaker. If he is a visual learner, allowing his eyes to drift toward the window or door is a sure way to miss most of what is being said.
Kinesthetic learners feel more motivated and engaged when they can incorporate more doing into their schoolwork. Try these ideas to motivate a kinesthetic learner:
• Help him look for ways to make learning hands-on. Use counters to learn addition and subtraction, divide objects into halves, thirds and fourths to teach fractions. Learn spelling words by manipulating alphabet blocks into place.
• Urge him to combine study breaks with physical activity. Suggest that he study for 30 minutes, then go for a short run (about 10 minutes) and then come back to study.
• Give him as much room as possible when studying. Many kinesthetic learners like to pace the floor while memorizing. They also like to study in non-sitting positions, such as standing up or lying down.
• Help him with reading comprehension by having him tell you about or act out a passage from a book. Be his audience or play a role yourself.
• Encourage him to do hands-on projects. Kinesthetic learners can shine at science fairs and art shows because they love to create things. Participation in these events can boost your child’s self-esteem, which can in turn boost his motivation.