Understanding Your Child's Learning Style

The first step to effective studying is utilizing strategies that align with how your child learns.
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Some kids are able to get A’s without opening a book in preparation for a test. This is a blessing and a curse. It's a positive because your child is a good test-taker and can easily absorb and retain information, however, one day, demands will increase and a child’s natural talents may not be enough to sustain the same results. When this realization occurs, a child may not be equipped with study habits to combat the challenging material. In order to get the same grades, he or she has to put in more effort and time than before. That shift feels counterintuitive for many kids and common reactions are:

  • I never had to work this hard before, is something wrong with me?
  • I don’t even know how to study.
  • Why bother? I’m cool with C’s.

During my coaching sessions, I urge parents to teach their child study habits early regardless of their grades. This practice exposes children to the learning process, increases their understanding of how their brain best remembers information and prepares them with a specialized toolkit for that inevitable moment when they will need to know how to study.

Identify Your Child’s Learning ​Style

Before we jump into study skills, it’s important to know how your child learns. This post will focus on learning styles. The next article will focus on specific study skills that support each learning style. The brain typically gravitates towards one of the following learning styles listed below.

  • Visual Learner: Learn by reading or seeing images.
  • Auditory Learner: Learn by listening or speaking out loud.
  • Tactile Learner: Learn by touching and doing, whether it be physical activity or simulating an experience so as to create a personal connection. 

Utilize the Learning Styles in Your Day-to-Day

Experiment with the ways in which you present information to your child and observe which style is most effective. For example, the next time you ask your child to pack their lunch or bring their instrument to school, try one of the following:

Visual:

  • Create a different colored post-it with an image that represents each item.
  • Put the items in list form so your child’s brain can process how many items they must remember.
  • Place post-it notes at your child’s eye-level on a door or a mirror that they always pass before exiting the house for school.

Auditory:

  • Get into focus-mode by saying:​ "I am about to tell you directions and I am going to ask you to repeat them when I’m done.”​​
  • In short and numbered sentences, state the items to be remembered:​ "You are responsible for bringing two items to school today, 1. your lunch and  2. your instrument.”​
  • Ask them to repeat back the items.

Tactile:

  • With your child, create a “reminder dance” that includes a sound and movement that represents each item.
  • The sillier and more dramatic the better as it makes the items easier to remember.
  • Before you leave the house, together do the dance to trigger your child’s memory of what items they need to grab.

This experiment should give you a better sense of your child’s learning style in specific situations. It’s normal for your child to gravitate to more than one way of learning. The goal is to give your child a sense of direction when choosing a study activity that will work best for their brain.

Knowing your child’s learning style can help shape specific study strategies.