The “one size fits all” approach to learning is flawed because it assumes all students learn in the same ways. As you watch a child grow and learn, it quickly becomes obvious that each child has their own way of learning and interacting with the world. One child may enjoy reading a book for hours while another may want to spend all day outside. Because each child has a different way they view the world, the school curriculum should be differentiated to suit the needs of each student. It is common for a student’s day to consist largely of sitting at a desk and listening to a lecture. With student-centered learning, the students are more engaged and achieve more. This is where multiple intelligences and learning styles come in.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
In the 1980’s, a developmental psychologist and educational researcher, Howard Gardner, verified that different children learn in different ways. While all individuals in a group are equally intelligent, a lesson plan that worked for some children didn’t work as well for others. This is where the Theory of Multiple Intelligences comes into play. Gardner stated that different people approach learning in different ways. Children learn better in school when their individual learning styles are recognized and supported. He came up with seven different learning styles: Auditory, visual, verbal, kinesthetic, logical, solitary, and social.
Common Learning Styles
“Learning styles” is the understanding that every child learns differently. An individuals learning style refers to the optimal way they absorb, process, comprehend and retain information. Individual learning styles depend on cognitive, emotional, and environmental factors, as well as prior experience. For educators, we have to know the differences in our student’s learning styles and find the best strategies to incorporate them into our daily activities, curriculum, and assessments.
There are seven primary learning styles that include:
- Aural: Using sound and music to learn
- Verbal: Learn through speech and writing
- Kinesthetic/Physical: Prefer using a “hands-on” approach
- Visual: Like learning using pictures and images
- Logical: Learn through reasoning (tend to do well in math)
- Solitary: Enjoy individualized, self-paced studying
- Social: Like to learn in groups with others
Students can fall into multiple of these learning styles. When viewed at through the traditional style of education, where the teacher stands at the front of the classroom and explains concepts to students, only verbal learners are benefitting.
Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic Learning Styles
Here is a closer look at three of the main learning styles:
Auditory Learning Style:
These learners learn best through hearing. They tend to remember and understand concepts better when they are explained out loud, even if they are just speaking to themselves. They can better retain knowledge when ideas are paired with nonverbal sounds, like music, drum beats. and clapping.
Auditory learners love music and can remember the words to songs they hear. They also easily follow spoken directions and like to read out loud, even when they are alone. They would prefer to have someone read them a story than to read it themselves.
Incorporating Auditory Learning In The Classroom
These students will understand more when the teacher explains something in class, rather than using a reading assignment. If you have an auditory learner, encourage them to say things out loud.
- A mini-spelling bee will help your student practice words by saying the letters rather than spelling them out loud.
- To practice reading, try getting books on tape and encouraging them to read along with the story.
- For lessons, try recording them reading the lesson out loud and giving them the audio to listen to later.
- When stumped by a new concept, have a conversation about it and let the child work through the logic of the problem by talking to you about it.
- For memorization, auditory learners love wordplay and language patterns. When they have to memorize something, make up a silly song about it.
- The auditory learner’s understanding is much stronger when their teacher explains something to the class, rather than when they’re given a reading assignment.
Visual Learning Style
Out of these three learning styles, visual learning most closely conforms to the traditional style of teaching. Visual learners learn best by using their sense of sight. They show an affinity for books and reading. They can learn from videos, demonstrations, and classroom handouts. These learners obtain information from reading assignments, taking and reviewing notes, and from charts, diagrams and other visual aids.
Visual learners like to be at the front of the classroom, writing down everything the teacher puts on the board. They love bright colors and will use posters and mobiles to brighten up their rooms. These learners like to draw and pain and will retell a story down to the smallest detail. When trying to learn a new task, they like to see someone else perform a task before they try it themselves.
Incorporating Visual Learning In The Classroom
If you have a visual learner, surround them with books. Even before they can read, your child will be interested in bright pictures and stories.
- To help remember information more clearly, stock up on art supplies. They can use them to create visual representations of what they are learning.
- Have them create drawings to remember important facts, identify the main elements of a storyline, and solidify the meaning of new words in their heads.
- Use highlighters with notes and reading assignments, a whiteboard for quick sketches, and flashcards
- Create a quiet, non-distracting space for them to work as too many sights and colors can be distracting.
Kinesthetic Learning Style
This is the most physical of the learning styles. Kinesthetic refers to our ability to sense body position and movement. Kinesthetic learners absorb information through touch, movement, and motion. To really understand something, these learners need to touch, feel, and move around something.
These students love building sets, model kits, and interactive displays. They often tear things apart so they can learn about them. When offered a choice in art class, they will choose modeling clay over pencils and paint. They also enjoy books with pop-ups, little doors, and textures.
Incorporating Kinesthetic Learning In The Classroom
Kinesthetic learners like to hold things in their hands. They also benefit from using rhythmic motions like hand clapping or finger snapping when reading or practicing math facts. Encourage your child if you notice them using rhythm to help them remember.
- Physical math manipulatives, like pattern blocks and base ten blocks, can help these learners learn new math concepts.
- To practice spelling, get them some letter-shaped magnets they can move around on the fridge.
- Give these learners textured paper and different sized pencils and pens to choose from.
- When doing sedentary homework, give your child a stationary bicycle or an exercise ball they can sit on instead of a desk chair. You can also use a standing desk to help fidgety children learn more.
At Little Angels Child Care Center, the curriculum model we use is The Creative Curriculum. With this model children’s interests form the basis of where learning sprouts and developmental milestones are incorporated into purposeful planning. The possibilities are endless, creating an environment that is always evolving. Our staff prioritizes meeting each child’s individual needs while maintaining a sense of community within the group. We place a special emphasis on nurturing children’s social skills.