What kind of learner is your homeschool student? Visual, auditory, read/write or kinesthetic? If you’re not sure which one, read on for how to identify each kind of learner and how to best teach each.
People’s brain structures contain various unique ways of capturing information and processing knowledge—otherwise known as learning styles. Using a curriculum that addresses a child’s real educational need helps students become more enthusiastic about learning and facing new challenges.
Got the results? Let’s see how you can apply this to teaching your student!
Teaching to Unique Learning Styles
Teaching according to a student’s specific learning style helps the student process the content better and thus absorb the information more easily—learning becomes more meaningful and relevant. The student is more capable and motivated to maintain focus and attention during lessons. In addition, students are encouraged to learn even more and to develop their academic potential.
Visual Learning Styles
Visual learners learn best through observation and thus often pay close attention to details, facial expressions and nonverbal communication. While homeschooling, the teacher can always try to make eye contact with the student by gently nodding or shaking her head, indicating that she is listening to and understanding the student.
Visual learners absorb more information when the content is visualized through books, posters, slides, images or examples written on the board. In addition, it is a good strategy to show the lesson summary to the visual student beforehand. Text markers or highlighters can also help visual learners to identify and absorb key information.
“Visual intelligence is the most prevalent among students. The teacher can prepare and develop activities using this type of intelligence to complement the learning of the student. A good example of a pedagogical activity that encourages the visual capabilities of the student is flashcards, especially ones that present a fun and colorful feature and get the child’s attention.”
It is worth mentioning that the excess of visual stimuli in the classroom such as maps, graphics, posters and drawings on the wall can distract a visual learner. Make sure that any decorations in your classroom contribute to the lesson.
The auditory (or aural) learner is very sensitive to vocal tones. Loud or impatient tones of voice can make the classroom tense and detract from learning. Homeschool teachers should maintain a firm, confident voice when teaching auditory learners.
Auditory students better understand the information when it is exposed orally by the educator. These students develop their learning effectively when they are reading a text aloud, listening to a recorded audio story, or participating in a discussion. The auditory learner also benefits by repeating the instructions received or by conducting oral evaluations.
As a teaching strategy, auditory resources such as audiobooks, storytelling or reading aloud can be very helpful for these students. Some examples from “Unraveling Reading” include:
“The use of jingles, poems and songs that can enhance the child’s learning, as well as the utilization of lectures, discussions, debates, documentaries and audio tapes.”
For an auditory student, consider implementing lectures, webinars, video classes, audiobooks, podcasts, panel discussions, debates, oral presentations, documentaries and interviews into your lessons. Additionally, it’s important to avoid extra sounds (such as noisy siblings, TV or radio noises and loud music) while auditory learners are studying. Provide quiet learning places for auditory learners.
Kinesthetic students are in constant motion. These students easily lose focus if they must sit and take lecture notes for long periods of time
As a result, they become restless, move their bodies in the chair, tap the table with their fingers and sometimes feel the need to go drink water, go to the restroom, or suddenly start conversations with those who are seated near them. That’s why teaching strategies that do not allow for much movement fail for kinesthetic students. They learn best through movement and practice.
Kinesthetic students need free learning spaces to move (outdoor activities or practical classes in the lab, for example). Teachers can also use games, group dynamics, parodies, songs, and rhymes to help teach these children.
“As a teaching technique, the educator can apply activities in which the child can touch the materials and experiment with different textures and formats. In a class on geometric shapes, for example, instead of presenting texts and books on the subject, the teacher can show the class colored geometric shapes made of wood (or other material) that students can touch and feel, using [their] fingers.”
Kinesthetic learning styles master information best through activities that use the whole body, transforming the knowledge into learning experiences. For instance, a trip to the grocery store may double as a lesson on finances and budgeting, while a zoo trip may double as a lesson on mammal biology.
Learning Styles in the Classroom (Schooling Multiple Styles Together)
What if you are homeschooling several students together who don’t share the same learning style?
First, try to incorporate the various learning styles as much as possible. For example, if you are reading a book together, read aloud so the auditory learner can hear you; encourage the visual learner to illustrate the story; have the reading/writing learner take notes; and allow the kinesthetic learner to make quiet sound effects or act out the story in the background.
Second, don’t feel discouraged if you can’t incorporate all your students’ learning styles simultaneously! Rather, help students realize which style is their dominant one, and then give them the tips and tools that you’ve learned from this article so that they can take control of their learning journeys.
A Final Word on Learning Styles
There is no such thing as a superior or inferior learning style. Visual, auditory, read/write and kinesthetic are different learning styles that attend different needs of learners. Remember, each student is unique and will be more capable to achieve success through being taught by methods suited to their dominant learning styles.
One of the reasons we believe that homeschooling is the best educational model is that it allows you to teach to your children’s unique learning styles. Supporting families that homeschool is why we offer encouragement and practical resources like you found in this article.