The 7 Main Types of Learning Styles
Educators and researchers have spent thousands of hours trying to better understand how students learn. While there are some variances and out-and-out dissenters, many people agree that students generally possess one of seven types of learning styles:
- Auditory (Musical)
- Linguistic (Verbal)
- Social Solitary
For a moment, think about your own school experiences. Did you ever struggle through a class where nothing seemed to click? Maybe you had one or two amazing teachers that seemed to really ‘get’ you. When you did particularly well in a class, it’s very likely that the teacher taught you in a way that matched your learning style.
In essence, this is why learning styles matter. Approach a child with the correct learning style, and they’ll be better, more engaged, and successful learners!
Below is a quick explanation of each of the seven learning styles, and how to approach each one.
Spatial learners are visual learners. These are children who learn best through imagery. They prefer to see things rather than hear them as they learn, and often do well if they can access graphics, videos, even mind maps. Visual learners also express their knowledge best when they can draw, color, otherwise use visuals in their assignments.
Does your child:
- Enjoy drawing and coloring?
- Understand maps and charts easily?
- Have great spatial awareness?
- Show the ability to visualize objects and outcomes?
- Engage well with lessons that are heavy on visual elements?
If so, there’s a good chance that they are a spatial learner.
Auditory learners are in their element when they can listen to what they need to understand. For example, they get more from the group discussion about a book than they do from reading the book itself.
Auditory learners have some unique aptitudes and learning mechanisms. These include:
- Saying things out loud to memorize them.
- Noticing changes in tones and pitch.
- Creating rhymes and speaking in rhythmic cadences.
- Showing an interest in music and sound.
Auditory-musical learners can be helped to learn best through class discussions, podcasts, recorded lectures, and songs.
3. Linguistic or Verbal
Linguistic learners love the written word. They are avid writers and readers. These kids tend to have large vocabularies and are interested in exploring the meanings of words and phrases. They may enjoy poems, rhymes, and tongue twisters.
If you think your child is a linguistic learner, try using some of these techniques to help them learn:
- Writing and acting out scripts.
- Creating role-playing games.
- Using mnemonics.
- Encouraging students to give oral presentations.
- Writing stories and poems.
A quick tip: Also, remember to adapt your summative assessments to match these different learning styles.
There are two important markers of kinesthetic learners. First, they learn best when they are involved in activities where they use their hands. Kinesthetic learners love to work with manipulatives, build models, and carry out experiments where they can touch various materials. This category of learners will majorly benefit from all sorts of experiential learning classes.
Second, kinesthetic learners seek physical touch and movement, even when the lessons don’t naturally involve these things. Students who are kinesthetic learners may struggle to sit still, or always need something to do with their hands.
Give a kinesthetic learner the best advantage by:
- Letting them play outside.
- Taking frequent movement breaks.
- Allowing them to have fidget toys.
- Replacing desk chairs with exercise balls or standing desks.
Some students take a very logical, systematic approach to learning. These are mathematical or logical learners. They can see patterns, love to classify information, and find connections between concepts where others may not. Logical learners may also seek out rules and processes or make their own.
Here are some other characteristics of mathematical learners:
- Enjoys playing strategy games
- Can better see details than the big picture.
- Does not enjoy writing very much
Encourage these students to make lists, use color-coding, and find patterns in events to make them more successful learners.
A social learner thrives when they can work through concepts while interacting with others. Like auditory learners, they enjoy group discussions. However, while auditory learners process better this way, social learners are often seeking group feedback and consensus.
To help social learners succeed, you can:
- Get them to tell stories as lessons relate to their experiences.
- Encourage role-playing and group discussions.
- Allow them to engage in debate with others.
- Incorporate discussions about feelings and experiences.
Also, don’t forget to properly recognize and celebrate their achievements and effort. Social learners are positively motivated by praise and public recognition. So they’ll likely respond well to all sorts of kids certificates and other small accolades.
Solitary learners thrive when they are given the instruction and tools they need, then allowed to work on their own. They may have a difficult time with group assignments or veer away from class discussions to do their own work and research.
There are two things you can do to help solitary learners thrive. The first is to give them the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to work independently. For example, a solitary learner should be taught to discern a good research source from a bad one. You can also provide them with plenty of materials for taking notes and creating.
On the other hand, solitary learners must be able to work in groups. Keep in mind that these learners often care more about outcomes than processes. Find ways to show them that it’s important that they work through lesson materials and engage in discussions. It’s also helpful to give them away to track their own progress in a class.
When you take the time to discover a child’s learning style and find ways to accommodate them, they are more likely to succeed. In addition to this, they feel valued knowing that lessons have been tailored to make learning more enjoyable for them. By honoring a student’s learning style students can move into higher-level subject knowledge!
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