In the last couple of years of marriage I have come to realise something quite distinct about the way my husband and I assimilate information. My husband has a healthy habit of reading books but when he gets the option of listening to audio versions, he will happily opt for that! I on the other hand, though ok with listening to audio versions, will be more engaged if you give me the tangible version that I can see and read. It’s neither that my husband finds it difficult to read nor do I find it difficult to listen. It’s just that we assimilate information more effectively in our natural learning styles –his being auditory and mine, visual.
This observation naturally got me thinking about my children and their learning styles.
My eight year old daughter, Yamile, has been an interesting phenomenon unravelling itself since I bowed low and brought her forth! In the first six months of her life, I realised something quite remarkable that has stayed with me ever since. She had a tendency to stare at printed fabric. Whether it was a wrapper, a piece of clothing, the soft furnishings of her cot bed or any printed fabric that was within her eyesight’s vicinity, she would study it – literally! And it was particularly so with fine print. It beat my mind why she would look so intently at something that I hardly gave a second look at.
That phase passed and then I noticed something about her approach to puzzle-making during her pre-school years (4-6years). She would not start with the corners and then build along the borders and work her way inwards which is one common method of solving a puzzle. She would (and still does!) connect the pieces by their colours and pictures. What I mean is: she would build up her puzzle by linking the pieces together via a common colour scheme or the picture details of the puzzle. For instance if there was a yellow car in the puzzle, she would fit all the yellow pieces together to make up the car and then go on to build another part of the puzzle in a similar way. Another observation made, probably in the last two or so years, is that she has started to write her own picture stories. She has always liked to draw things but now she does it while telling a story. She draws the pictures first and then writes the words after.
Another thing I have noticed about Yamile is her tendency to reason things out. Some of the questions or comments she makes are quite revealing of how she connects issues and tries to make sense out of them. She does this a lot!
From these observations, I would probably say Yamile’s learning style is a combination of visual and analytic
This may not always be the case as she grows and develops but for now, those are the two areas I have noticed quite clearly.
The teaching methods used in mainstream schooling in Africa often do not adequately cater for the varied learning styles of children. This is not problematic in itself because a child is still able to learn even when not learning in the style that comes naturally to them. It is however helpful for a parent (and a teacher) to know a child’s learning style and to find ways of teaching a child in his learning style as this will help a child to learn more effectively!
Education experts have grouped these learning styles into four groups:
- Auditory or Language learners
These children learn best by listening and also talking about what they are learning
- Visual Learners
These children learn best through watching and then illustrating what they see. This style is believed to be the most dominant and a lot of traditional schools are tailored for the visual learner
- Tactile or Kinaesthetic learners
These learners like to be actively involved in the learning process and learn best through hands-on activities. These learners may often be misdiagnosed for ADHD because of their averseness to ‘sitting still’.
- Analytical learners
These learners are very logical in their approach to learning and tend to ask a lot questions that probe thought.
If you are now wondering how to find out your child’s learning style it may entail just spending a day or two taking a closer look at how they interact with their environment and what they spend their time doing. Another helpful (although not always conclusive) route to take is a free assessment test online. There are several available and one which I recently did for my eight year old daughter was with Scholastic. They rated my daughter’s style as Architect/Artist and to an extent I concur with them. I will however continue to watch her develop and see how or whether she evolves over time.
What do you suppose might be your child’s learning style? If you take the Learning Personality Quiz on Scholastic, it will be great to hear where they rate your child!