What is your Learning Style?

We often speak about customizing our curriculum to our student’s Learning Styles, but what does that mean? 

Think about when you went to school and how many teachers had their learning style, and that is how they taught, their own way.  Their teaching methods worked for some and didn’t work for others, and unfortunately, it is not always successful when there isn’t a match between the student and the teacher.  As a result, our children learn differently than we did their age.

We also know that some teachers are better than others, just like there are certain subjects that you like over others.  This topic has been studied for years, and I have found that when some individuals struggle with learning, it may be a question of how they are being taught.

Also, remember when you used to compare your talents with those of your classmates? In every classroom, you could find the bookworm, the class clown, the artist, the jock, the math genius, the well-rounded student, and the slacker.  No matter our talent, we always thought one was superior to another. We could not have been more mistaken.

Research has shown that different people learn differently and that our current educational system – the one-size-fits-all model – is probably working well for only a handful of the learners in those classrooms.  The rest are forced to adapt – or not.

Although you’ve probably heard of the concept of learning styles before, it’s most likely been limited to an understanding that there are only three learning styles:  visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  However, there are a total of eight.  Typically people are not exclusively just one learning style or another.  Most utilize a variety of modalities when learning. But most importantly, there is no one right way to learn.  It is about individuality and what works best for that individual.

It is also important to note that just because a person falls into a specific category, such as social learning, this does not mean they are destined to fail subjects requiring logical learning, such as math or science. The idea here is that understanding your learning style does not mean that it limits one capability but instead gives the person a greater chance of success at learning information.

The eight Learning Styles are:

  • Visual or spatial: Is often referred to as a right-brained learner.  I prefer using pictures, images, charts, graphs, maps, diagrams, and timelines.  These learners see the world differently: They are imaginative, think outside the box, and quickly process what they see rather than hear.
  • Auditory: This learning is musically inclined.  They prefer sound and music rather than images.  They thin chronologically and learn best through step-by-step methods.  They enjoy debates and discussions and have strong language skills.  They also perform well on oral exams.
  • Kinesthetic or Physical: These learners constantly move and do something with their hands. They prefer using their body, hands, or sense of touch.  They learn best when their bodies are involved in the learning process.  Many Kinesthetic learners are often athletically gifted as well and tend to live in the present moment.
  • Verbal or Linguistic: Verbal learners specialize in processing information through language.  They prefer using words, both in speech and writing. They have an excellent memory for things they have read, and they enjoy word games and rhymes. These learners particularly enjoy their drama, writing, and speech classes.
  • Logical or Mathematical: As you would imagine, this type of learner is skilled at mathematical and logical reasoning and systems.  They can solve problems involving numbers and easily decode abstract visual information.  In addition, they can calculate relatively complex calculations in their heads and enjoy strategy games such as backgammon, chess, or Sudoku.
  • Social or interpersonal: This learning prefers learning in groups or with others.  They learn best through interaction with other people.  Social learners are gifted at reading other people’s emotions and facial expressions.  They also can easily find the root cause of communication problems.
  • Solitary or intrapersonal: The opposite of Social, this learner prefers to work alone and use self-study.  Most times, solitary learners are in tune with their feelings, who they are, and what they are capable of.  These are extremely independent individuals.  On the other hand, intrapersonal learners are exceptionally gifted in self-management and self-reflection.
  • Naturalistic: Naturalistic learning processes information best when it is related to finding patterns in nature and applying scientific reasoning to understanding all living creatures. These types of learners typically become Farmers, Scientists, or naturalists.  They love being outdoors and connecting with nature.

To demonstrate the diversity of learning styles – We have four daughters and two adults in our household, and we have all eight learning styles as either our Primary or Secondary!  It can make for interesting times when playing games together or around the dinner table!

As a parent or teacher, it is essential to understand these learning style differences to maximize a student’s learning potential.  Watch your children and students. Listen to what they want and their interests. Compare how they learn Auditory, Speaking, or Visual and the other styles outlined above. Compare how they interact with others while learning in a group or by themselves. Each observation will bring you closer to understanding their special gifts and reveal more effective ways to teach them using their preferred learning styles.