Understanding Your Young Child’s Learning Style: Tips for Parents
Having a pulse on your young child’s learning style can boost self-confidence, support brain development, enhance learning, and reduce tension. However, as a parent, it can be difficult to identify your young child’s learning style.
Though there are many online assessments, slim to none are designed for younger students. In this blog post, we will provide tips on identifying and understanding your child’s learning style, so you can ensure they are supported in the best way possible.
Get ready to be uncomfortable and frustrated.
If your child prefers to do things in a different style than yours, be ready to be uncomfortable and frustrated. Often, when our children prefer to do things ‘their way’, especially if it is the opposite of ours, we might see their style as problematic. We talk, teach, understand, and interact with our world in our style. It’s what makes us feel comfortable. However, when you insist that others with a different style do things the same way you do, it makes them feel uncomfortable and frustrated.
For example, if you’re a visual-style parent, chances are you like to create a written list of chores for your children. Your visual style child needs to write/draw/chart the list in their own handwriting. Your audio-style child prefers to be told what to do and needs the opportunity to repeat what you told them in their own voice. Your Kinesthetic learner prefers a drawing of each chore strategically posted where it needs to happen.
Observe and record your child’s behavior. Look for patterns that may indicate what type of learning environment is ideal for them. When you experience success with your child, take note of what brought about that success. Was it a specific teaching style or method? A particular activity? What elements contributed to their success? This could include things like structure, freedom to explore topics on their own terms, or creative expression. Here are a few examples:
- Do they like to discuss what they are learning, watching, and doing? Are they talking your ear off? (Audio)
- Do they prefer to play games and be in constant motion? Do they start fidgeting if they are asked to stop moving? (Kinesthetic)
- Do they spend time on their appearance? Are they bothered by how a room looks? (Visual)
Understanding what works for your child is the first step in discovering his or her learning style.
Listen carefully when they describe their work or activities that interest them. How your child communicates can give you clues about what they need. Are there any keywords or phrases that your child uses frequently? Noticing patterns in communication provides insight into how they process information and interpret their environment. Pay attention to the words they use. Which of these words do they use more frequently?
- “I SEE what you are saying.”, “Let me LOOK at what you are showing me.”, “Can you SHOW me?” These are visual learner clues.
- “I HEAR what you are saying.”, “Just TELL me…”.” Why, Ah-Ah, Oh!” These are audio learner clues.
- “Let me DO that.”, “Can I DO that?”, “Let me TRY, TASTE, FEEL that.”. Does your student shake their leg, touch things, chew gum, and/or move in their chair to readjust themselves? Chances are your student has kinesthetic tendencies.
To truly understand what works for your child, it is important to keep an open mind and try out different approaches. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods; sometimes, trial and error is the best way! Remember that what works for one student may not work for another; don’t be afraid to try new methods (especially if it feels uncomfortable to you) until you find something that resonates with your child.
- Do they like background music? Soft background music? Easily distracted by sounds they don’t create themselves. (Audio learners)
- Do they refer to pace the floor while you ask questions? Do they need to touch or/and manipulate things while learning? Do they prefer classes that allow them to move around and use their hands? Loud background music while studying? (Kinesthetic learners)
- Do they refer to use colorful highlighters, pen, and folders? Do they prefer charts, diagrams, and pictures? (Visual learners)
We are all hard-wired differently. Instead of focusing on weaknesses or areas where improvement is needed, focus on natural strengths, and use those as a starting point for further development. This will help boost confidence and create an environment of growth rather than one of apprehension or fear of failure.
Become a student of learning styles; pay close attention to how your child learns best and how their style changes over time as they grow older and develop new skill sets. It is also important to remember not to put labels on anyone; instead, recognize individual strengths, so everyone feels empowered in their own unique way!
Keep in mind we use all our senses to learn in multiple combinations. However, we have a style that feels the most comfortable. Instead, focus on discovering each person’s natural styles and use those as the foundation for building upon the strengths each style brings.
Once you become aware of these strengths, you won’t feel like a failure if something doesn’t seem “right”—you’ll instead feel empowered with the knowledge that each person in your family has unique gifts and talents just waiting to be discovered! With patience and effort, these tips will help parents create an environment where every child feels valued for who they are as individuals!
With three decades of experience, we coach parents to help them identify their and their young child’s learning styles and create learning environments that reduce tension and increase learning. Contact us to learn more.