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Train Up a Child: Children learn in different ways

By Pat Lamb

Studies show that we tend to raise our children the way we were raised in spite of any training in child-rearing classes we may have received along the way. Without realizing it, we tend to think that our children will learn the same way we learned without taking into account the differences in inherited traits and personalities. We can be much more effective in parenting (and grandparenting) if we can understand the differences in the way children learn.

Pat Lamb. (FILE)

Some children tend to learn better by hearing information while others learn better by seeing or doing. Educators classify children as auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. Actually, all children learn in each of these ways, but most are dominant in one or two of the ways.

Auditory learners learn best by having a story read to them rather than reading it for themselves. They like to have music going most of the time and would rather have someone tell them what to do than read instructions for themselves. They are often musically inclined and can learn better when things are set to music. Auditory learners might learn multiplication tables more easily if they are set to music. In my opinion, many children have not developed listening skills and do not fall into this category.

Visual learners learn better with charts and graphs or demonstrations. They need to see how a word looks to decide if it is spelled right, and they will probably learn their spelling words by writing them over and over rather than just saying them over and over. They will be the individuals who take a lot of notes when they are in high school or college. They need to be shown how to do things rather than just being told. Charts for daily chores work well for these children. They probably won’t just take a person’s word for something. They will probably want to see for themselves whether something is right.

Kinesthetic learners like to use their bodies and do active things. They are usually the children involved in sports. They learn best by doing projects. They like doing play-doh projects when they are young. When they are older, they are the ones who like the social studies and science projects that involve making things. An example of using a kinesthetic method to teach in school might be to have students stand and turn a certain number of degrees right or left to learn about degrees in a circle. At home, boys will love to do fix-it projects with dad. Girls will like cooking or other projects involving action.

Observance of children will give clues as to how they best learn. When children constantly doodle and draw pictures, you can know they are the visual learners. The very active children are usually the kinesthetic learners and it is important to keep them busy with projects. Quiet children may be the auditory learners as they are listening for sounds in nature or listening to others. No two children are the same. Good parents and teachers will learn to observe the differences and capitalize on the way that children learn best.

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