Have you ever tried explaining something to your child, but they don’t understand until you show them a picture or make them do it? The reason for this is not a lack of ability, but that every person learns differently. Knowing children don’t all learn the same way is important when they begin school. Preschool learning is a whole new world where children are asked to absorb many new concepts – which they often cannot do unless it’s shown in a way they understand.
To successfully teach a classroom full of unique individuals means having a dynamic curriculum that can not only appeal to each child’s learning capabilities, but explore them and help your child become an adaptive learner. Education experts found through research that there are about nine different learning styles, all of which can be classified into three main categories: auditory learning, visual learning, and physical learning. Whichever styles are more dominant will influence how quickly your child grasps concepts, where they will tend to struggle more with non-dominant learning styles.
The Auditory Learner
Auditory learners are children who learn best through verbal communication, sounds, and music. They grasp concepts faster when spoken to them and can concentrate better when music is playing. Effective teaching for auditory learners includes explaining a concept verbally, having children sing out routines or rules, and encouraging them to talk about what they learned.
The Visual Learner
Children who are good visual learners excel at learning through their use of sight. They like to look through picture books, spend their time drawing pictures, and are very keen observers. Visual learners can often pick up writing easily by watching the teacher draw the letters with every stroke, and they can easily recall how words look from books and posters. Helping children excel at this skill includes having them draw what happened during their weekend, matching images to words, and showing them concepts by drawing them out on the blackboard.
The Physical Learner
Physical learners, also called ‘tactual-kinesthetic learners’, learn from the world around them by using their hands and bodies to experience new concepts. Physical learners learn things like math more capably through the use of an abacus or paper clocks that they can manipulate with their own hands to ‘grasp’ their meaning. They enjoy making crafts with their hands, and they like to use their bodies to act out stories, dance, and wiggle around.
Preschool learning at Parkland Children’s Academy works with a hands-on curriculum that constantly keeps track of the children’s needs and interests, marking their progress as they go. Coupled with smaller class groups, the teacher is always aware of each child’s strengths and weaknesses. The teacher can then combine two subjects that involve different learning styles, which will engage children with their interest, all the while improving on their weakness.
For example learning the alphabet through use of pictures helps visual learners attach sounds to what they see, while auditory learners who understand the sounds of the alphabet quickly will be able to start attaching visual meaning to each letter. Similarly, an activity that includes dancing movement and singing will engage children who enjoy both physical and auditory learning styles.
Effective teaching happens through discovering a child’s learning style and using it as a place to help them become dynamic learners. If a teacher were trying to explain to a class how to play a sport, auditory learners would be able to listen to the rules, while visual learners would benefit from seeing images of the sport or watching others. Physical learners would benefit most from going outside and playing the sport. Finding a child’s learning style and working with it is beneficial, but it doesn’t challenge the child. As an adult we often don’t get a choice to learn something the way we want to, and teaching a child to adapt will work wonders for their learning capabilities throughout their life.