Meet­ing kids half­way

Now that school is in full swing, par­ents should pay at­ten­tion to their child’s pre­ferred method of learn­ing

North Toronto Post - - Kids - By Nancy Del Col

With kids of­fi­cially off to class, par­ents are al­ready deal­ing with home­work, lunches and all those af­ter school ac­tiv­i­ties.

One area that par­ents should de­vote their at­ten­tion to is their child’s learn­ing styles. A “learn­ing style” is one’s pre­ferred way of per­ceiv­ing, con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing, or­ga­niz­ing and re­call­ing in­for­ma­tion. It is in­flu­enced by ge­net­ics, pre­vi­ous learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, cul­ture and the so­ci­ety one lives in. Iden­ti­fy­ing and un­der­stand­ing your child’s style can help their at-home learn­ing and class­room lear­ing as well. Vis­ual learners Vis­ual learners watch faces in­tently to pick up in­for­ma­tion, and en­joy writ­ten texts, maps and charts. They of­ten re­call the po­si­tion­ing of in­for­ma­tion on a page and can be­come dis­tracted by messy sur­round­ings or move­ment around them. They gen­er­ally dis­like sit­ting and lis­ten­ing for long pe­ri­ods. These learners need a vis­ually stim­u­lat­ing learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment. At home, try pre­sent­ing per­ti­nent words or equa­tions on colour­ful posters and wall dis­plays. Au­di­tory learners Au­di­tory learners pre­fer ver­bal in­struc­tions and en­joy di­a­logues, plays, de­bates, dis­cus­sions and sto­ries read aloud. They will solve prob­lems by talk­ing about them and sound out new words pho­net­i­cally. They for­get faces, but re­mem­ber names and what was talked about. Chil­dren who are au­di­tory learners en­joy work­ing in pairs and small groups. Dur­ing at-home study time, try us­ing ed­u­ca­tional videos and record­ings to en­hance the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Telling sto­ries as a fam­ily, singing songs and chant­ing/mem­ory work will sim­plify the re­ten­tion of in­for­ma­tion and even make it en­joy­able. Ki­naes­thetic learners Ki­naes­thetic learners learn through ac­tive in­volve­ment and have dif­fi­culty sit­ting still for long pe­ri­ods of time. They will learn new skills by prac­tis­ing over and over to get them right and use move­ment as a mem­ory aid. They en­joy sports, com­pe­ti­tions and board games and pre­fer group ac­tiv­i­ties to solo work. They can be­come dis­tracted by ac­tiv­ity around them and need to have ac­tiv­ity worked into the class­room rou­tine. Quiet seat work must be fol­lowed by some­thing that al­lows them to get up and move. For the ath­ome ki­naes­thetic learner, try play­ing ac­tive trivia games that test the whole fam­ily’s smarts and also en­cour­age move­ment such as ges­tur­ing, flail­ing and wig­gling to win the game. Tac­tile learners Tac­tile learners will use writ­ing and draw­ing as mem­ory aids. They’ll test the spell­ing of a word by writ­ing it down to find out if it “feels right” and will use ges­ture and ex­pres­sive move­ments while talk­ing. They en­joy hand­son ac­tiv­i­ties and in­ter­ac­tive projects and be­come dis­tracted by ac­tiv­ity in their en­vi­ron­ment. They of­ten ig­nore di­rec­tions, in­stead they choose to fig­ure things out as they go along. Par­ents of tac­tile learners might con­sider in­vest­ing in a dry erase board or chalk­board to al­low the child to bet­ter process ideas. Other par­a­digms • Ac­tive vs. Re­flec­tive: the ac­tive learner says, “Let’s try this out and see if it works.” The re­flec­tive one says, “Let’s dis­cuss this first.” • Sens­ing vs. In­tu­itive: sens­ing learners are de­tail and fact ori­ented. In­tu­itive ones are more ab­stract and con­cep­tual in their think­ing. • Se­quen­tial vs. Global: se­quen­tial learners ac­quire in­for­ma­tion in a lin­ear, log­i­cal, stepby-step way. Global ones look at the big pic­ture, fill­ing in ran­dom de­tails later. • Left-brained (in­tel­lec­tual, ob­jec­tive, lin­ear, ver­bal) vs. Right-brained (in­tu­itive, sub­jec­tive, holis­tic, vis­ual). ADHD One last way that un­der­stand­ing learn­ing pref­er­ences can be help­ful is when it comes to the realm of be­havioural chal­lenges. There ap­pears to be a fine line be­tween chil­dren who are strong ki­naes­thetic learners and those with ADHD (at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der). Since ki­naes­thetic teach­ing meth­ods are the ones used least of­ten in schools, these chil­dren strug­gle in class­rooms that re­quire sit­ting still and lis­ten­ing. The di­rec­tor of Na­tional Read­ing Di­ag­nos­tic In­sti­tute (N.R.D.I.), Ricki Links­man, says, “A ki­naes­thetic learner may not need med­i­ca­tion so much as in­no­va­tive teach­ing meth­ods.” Some­thing to think about if your leg-jig­gling, pen­cil-tap­ping child has been flagged for a po­ten­tial at­ten­tion or be­havioural dis­or­der. It might also be a good idea to have a for­mal as­sess­ment con­ducted by a li­censed child psy­chother­a­pist.

Re­mem­ber, these la­bels are just guide­lines – a way to tune in to your child’s learn­ing habits and bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate with teach­ers. Don’t use them to put your child into a “learn­ing box,” be­cause we all demon­strate var­i­ous styles at dif­fer­ent times.

Un­der­stand­ing that your child has a unique learn­ing style is step num­ber one

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