Learning Styles: Why “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Work
I am sure many of you have read or heard about the “5 love languages.” I have done my own share of research on this topic and found it fascinating that each person has their own love language in both the way they show love and wish to receive love. I can only imagine the countless number of people this knowledge has helped just by understanding individual preference and emotional, mental and physical needs.
Just like each person has their own love language, we all have our unique learning style. It doesn’t go away when we emerge from years of schooling. This learning style continues with us into adulthood. It can modify and change with circumstances and opportunities. Many people discover they have a dominant learning style with far less use of the other learning approaches. Others may find their learning styles fairly balanced and use certain strengths in different situations. There is no right or wrong to learning styles. You can develop skills in a less dominant learning style to expand your learning ability.
Recent research has demonstrated that children learn in unique ways and that our current “one-size-fits-all” educational system sometimes caters to a handful of students in each classroom, but not to all. This is not to say that educators and schools must cater to each student’s learning style, however, we should strive to help children succeed and show their potential through other means of learning. There is a division of this issue from those who claim children are incapable of learning unless it is their dominant style and those that state every student should learn with the same resources, no additional aids. In our experience, the more learning styles students are subjected to the better. If we push the idea of a child only learning in one specific way, this could create a crutch for students, which also prevents children from asserting themselves in other creative ways or they may lean too heavily on instructors to cater directly to their one learning style. Opening the doors to other learning styles improves critical thinking, allows kids to make their own choices, expands their views on how to solve problems, and provides them with opportunities to develop new ideas from different perspectives. Our goal is to not only expose children to several learning styles, but to help them become more well-rounded in their learning ability and to prep the brain for learning holistically.
On the other hand, we must realize that everyone has their own way of learning and if your child and their support system know how they learn best, there can be reasonable accommodations that can assist their learning potential. Recently, we reviewed the many different learning terms that you hear within the educational sphere as you see here. This includes the eight individual learning styles.
Different Types of Learning Styles
With all that said, let’s examine each of the learning styles and how each can be addressed in the classroom or a child’s learning environment.
Visual learners (sometimes called spatial) use pictures, colors and images to learn. They understand and like maps and charts. Their spatial reasoning is solid and can understand placement of objects in relationship to the environment with ease. The visual sense is managed by the occipital lobes at the back of the brain. Both the occipital and parietal lobes manage spatial understanding.
Characteristics of a Visual Learner include the following:
- Usually sits at the front of the classroom if there is a choice
- Information makes more sense if explained with a chart or graph
- Makes outlines for everything
- Copies what is written on the board
- Sees colors with everything
- Makes lists with bullets and stars
- Enjoys visual technology
The auditory (aural) learner describes a child that retains information easier when the instruction is reinforced through sound. They enjoy music and can hear distinct notes. These kids gravitate to voice and song recordings, like podcasts or auditory lectures, and frequently sing to themselves. The temporal lobe in the brain handles the auditory information. The right temporal lobe is particularly important for music.
Characteristics of an auditory learner include the following:
- Prefers lectures over reading the material
- Frequently reads out loud to themselves
- Likes oral reports
- Participates in discussions
- Likes debating
- Uses songs or jingles to memorize important information
- Remembers names easily
The verbal or linguistic learner loves words in both speech and writing. These kids enjoy both listening to the spoken word and reading it. They find it easy to express themselves. The key areas in the brain responsible for this learning style are the temporal and frontal lobes.
Characteristics of a verbal learner include the following:
- Usually an excellent memory
- Will reread and rewrite notes
- Create lists with keywords when studying
- Enjoys role-playing when learning new concepts
- Good at word games, rhymes and tongue twisters
- Does well at getting thoughts down on paper
The kinesthetic (physical) learner explores their world through touch. The child learns by moving their body and using their hands abundantly. They do best in large spaces when learning and delights in moving around, which is why this learning style makes sense for sensory seekers. Children who often use this learning style enjoy manipulating a model or actual object that is being taught. The cerebellum and the motor cortex (at the back of the frontal lobe) engages much of the child’s physical movement processes.
Characteristics of a kinesthetic learner include the following:
- Enjoys drawing and doing many kinds of art
- Building with blocks and counting with objects come easily
- Hands-on teaching is ideal for these kids
- Reading or reciting while walking back and forth helps these learners
- Thrives on lessons turned into art projects
- Athletically gifted
- Lives in the moment
This type of learner (also known as mathematical) is skilled at mathematical and logical reasoning. These kids are able to solve number problems with ease. Logical learners excel at understanding cause and effect relationships. They attempt to classify and organize anything and everything because it helps their brain make sense of the material. The parietal lobes in the brain, especially the left side, drive the logical thinking.
Characteristics of the logical learner include the following:
- Enjoys strategy games
- Classifies and regroups objects
- Good with numbers
- Likes to understand the why behind the answers
- High level reasoning skills
- Focuses on statistics
- Likes math games and brain teasers
The social (also referred to interpersonal) child learns best when they are in a group setting. This learner is usually a good communicator and enjoys talking to others. Social interactions and large bodies of people build positive feelings in this child. The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain handle much of a person’s social activities.
Characteristics of the social learner include the following:
- Excels in group learning
- Can read other people’s emotions easily
- Socially intelligent
- Likes to teach others what they have learned
- Enjoys studying with sharing knowledge
- Communicates easily and loves dialogue
This solitary (intrapersonal) learner enjoys working alone and thrives on quiet surroundings. They seek to study and learn independently. They are great at self managing goals and time-management. The intrapersonal child likes to play alone and displays a great imagination.
The frontal and temporal lobes handle this type of learning as well. The limbic system also plays a role with mood and basic emotions.
Characteristics of the solitary learner include the following:
- Prefers to work alone
- Viewed as the quiet one in a group setting
- In tune with feelings
- Will try and find a quiet and comfortable place to study
- Establishes personal learning or achievement goals
- Likes to keep a journal
Students can achieve their learning potential with greater ease if they not only understand their preferred learning styles, but also develop and practice skills in the other learning styles to become a well-rounded learner. When the child is a well-rounded learner, they will be able to adapt in various educational, personal and social settings.
Learning Styles Printable
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Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs