Everyone – especially children – learns in different ways. It’s not all about putting something in front of them and expecting them to simply remember it and repeat it later. Our philosophy has always been that there are different ways to have intelligence, and not everyone is intelligent in the same area, so we’ve always made that part of our curriculum.
It can be a challenge to address so many different teaching methods into a single class, but it’s worth the effort to increase the number of subjects and activities because that’s how we can reach so many more students and help them discover how enjoyable learning really is.
There are a few basic types of learning styles. Where some children may respond to visual cues, others may require auditory methods or more kinesthetic approaches. There are several ways to address these developmental needs that are fun and memorable for everyone.
Visual Learning Styles
Children who have a more visual style of learning will respond better to pictures, diagrams, handouts, flip cards, and other things that convey ideas through imagery. As they get older, they tend to be the kids who enjoy making and following lists and detailed written instructions (when they get old enough).
In our pre-school and daycare programs, we might address these needs by:
- Using flash cards
- Drawing pictures together
- Using bright colors in different activities
- Working with visual patterns and memory games
- Making sure our demonstrations use clear body language and facial expressions
For some children, it’s not about what they see, but what they hear. They may be young, but they enjoy listening, and they like to hear themselves be part of the process. For these kids we can focus on:
- Providing clear, verbal instruction
- Minimizing distracting sounds so they can focus
- Talking to them, and listening when they speak
- Having them repeat the things they just heard
- Reading instructions out loud together
- Using songs or poems to help the learning process
These learners need to have activities that let them use their hands. Any kind of practical, hands-on experience will often help them assimilate knowledge better because they are physically doing something. This could mean that a good experience for them would include:
- Drawing or doodling
- Tracing words and diagrams
- Using different sizes of paper, pencils, crayons, etc.
- Using clay or other mediums
- Letting them do as much of the activity on their own as possible
Some children just need to be doing things. They need to be up and moving. The best way to address this learning style is to let them move and explore their world and discover new experiences. In this case, they might enjoy:
- Acting out different roles
- Moving objects around the room and seeing how they interact
- Pretending they are part of a certain story
- Using physical gestures and movements (snapping, clapping, marching) to help remember certain things
Determining the Learning Style
So how do you discover a child’s learning style? The simplest answer is through observation. It’s important to pay attention to how they act, where their interests lie, and what helps them process information. It isn’t about looking at the results of some kind of test. Does the child enjoy drawing? Does he or she seem more comfortable in a quiet or energetic environment? What picture books seem to capture their attention?
There are a lot of ways to discover which learning style is the most productive, even at such an early stage in their education. By addressing these individual needs, our teachers can bring a number of structured and free-play activities to the students that will enjoy and remember.