by Sara Kendall

Every child processes information differently and learns in different ways. Hearing, seeing, and touching are different ways a child learns. There are three main cognitive learning preferences: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Understanding your child’s learning preferences may reduce homework battles, improve academic achievement, and boost parent-child relationships.

Visual Learning Preference

A child with a visual learning preference may be good at drawing, puzzles and hands-on games. They may see color, texture and 3-D. Their learning may be benefitted by the use of color, seeing images, watching a person perform a task and viewing a hands-on presentation.

A colorful homework area stimulates a visual learner. This type of learner tends to remember information that has been written down. The use of flash cards for a child to see the word, picture and definitions helps to grasp information. Using different colored markers and highlighters on their homework will grab the attention of a visual learner. Graphs and charts may benefit a visual learner in retaining information.

Auditory Learning Preference

Natural readers, good listening skills, and strong musical talents are common characteristics of auditory learning. These learners retain information from hearing and speaking. Teachers are fortunate to have auditory learners in their classroom. They are able to listen to the teacher and answer questions.

Repeating information out loud and in their own words are good homework practices for learners with an auditory preference. Listening to a book on tape and following along at the same time is an excellent way for this learner to retain information. Playing soft music in the background may help auditory learners concentrate better.

Kinesthetic Learning Preference

These learners often like math and science. They may like to demonstrate how to do something rather than verbally explaining it. They like to work while standing, chew gum, or tap their fingers or toes while studying.

“These learners need to experience what the movement feels like when being asked to demonstrate a movement or task,” says Norma Wright, occupational therapist. “Just be aware that sometimes a child is paying attention, even if it appears they are moving all over the place when we are talking to them.”

Kinesthetic learners may want to act out a situation from a story, lesson or game. They may search around the room for objects to represent what they are talking about and may go through the motions while explaining a specific scenario.

“One might think that the child just doesn’t have the words to describe the game, but it’s more than that. Their thoughts and ideas come out easier as they go through the motions,” says Wright.

Allow the child to move as much as possible when doing homework. The movement does not have to be specific to acting out the concepts to solve a problem. Use a big exercise ball to move to different areas of the room to collect letters while practicing spelling or clap out rhythms for things to be memorized.

Different methods fit different learning preferences. Once you know more about your child’s learning preferences, you may be able to start expanding these approaches to increase their learning potential.

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