Perhaps the last school year didn’t go as well for your child as you both would have liked, or maybe you just know he can do better. It may be that the way he’s being taught doesn’t mesh with his learning style. Research shows there are a variety of ways people learn.
Four of the more common learning styles are verbal (excels in reading and writing), visual (prefers images), auditory (learns by listening) and tactile (good at hands-on tasks). Observe your child’s behavior or take the quiz to figure out which one of these styles best describes your child. Then you can help by creating study aids that play up on his or her strengths.
Wordsmith—Verbal Learning Style
The verbal child excels when it comes to the written word. You’ve probably noticed that your child loves to read and play word games. Tip: To maximize her learning, encourage her to take notes while studying and write out information in his own words, even for subjects like math. Re-reading notes also works, and your child can break down diagrams and other visual materials into words. Make it fun by suggesting she turn her homework notes into a poem or news story.
Artist—Visual Learning Style
If you find doodles all over your child’s notes and she seems to prefer diagrams and pictures to the accompanying words, chances are you’ve got a visual learner. Tip: Give her highlighters and brightly colored Post-its to mark notes, and encourage her to make illustrations, such as maps and timelines, which will appeal to her visual nature and help her retain the material. Colorful flash cards are also useful.
Good Listener—Auditory Learning Style
The auditory learner is the one who benefits from a long lecture. Auditory learners also tend to have musical talents and a knack for learning foreign languages. Tip: Give your child a digital recorder or an iPod attachment that will allow him record his thoughts while studying alone, have him read notes out loud and help set up a study group with classmates. Encourage him to ask questions in class. Listening to music while studying can work, too.
Crafty Creature—Tactile Learning Style
Does your child like to do crafts and other hands-on activities? Did she get an “A” for her diorama but a “C” on the related essay test? Chances are she’s a tactile learner, and excels when given the chance to do something physical with the material, such as a multi-media project or drawing, rather than an essay. Tip: Take her on a weekend field trip to a museum, or help her act out the homework in a role-playing game. You can also suggest she walk around the room while studying for a test and take frequent breaks while doing homework.
Observation is the best way to discover your child’s learning style—or styles as the case may be. Tip: Take notice of how your child performs in certain environments—maybe he’s easily distracted by noise, or prefers to take notes on a computer. Once you’ve figured out what methods work best, talk to your child’s teachers to find out how you can work together. Teachers want their students to excel, and by working as a team you can make sure your child reaches his or her full potential.