Understanding Learning Styles Of Your Child
Parents panic. School teachers give special attention. Counselors give special time to the child. Why? Because the little child is poor in spellings or in arithmetic. Terms like dyslexia, dyscalculia, learning disability, and what not become the histories of the search engine for the parents, along with the treatment plans and remedies for these problems, without even confirming what problem the child has.
This becomes a concern for the parents, especially Indian parents who feel that their child is different from the other children of their age, he/she would not be able to take a stand in the society, what answers they would have to give to others, and what not, in that tender small age of the child who has just started forming words and started solving simple maths.
Do not panic if your child doesn’t remember words and spellings, and cannot do maths like the other classmates. Do not overburden yourself with the psychological terms, even before knowing if these are applicable for your child or not. Do not harm the peace of your mind, by over thinking about your child and his/her unsuccessful stories being reported, by the teachers. Be concerned, not tensed.
As a psychological consultant, I always tell my clients, every child is unique with some unique composition of neurons and brain functions. Your child has some unique ways of behaving, thinking and even learning. Understand how he/she learns and wishes to learn, and then understand his/her abilities.
parents need to keep their eyes and ears open to see how their children learn. Every child has different ways of learning. The different ways of learning can be understood from the VAK Theory, as given by some psychologists in 1920, still applicable in today’s children.
VAK stands for the Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic learner, and this can be understood by seeing some of these signs in your child.
When your child is a visual learner, your child will prefer to read things by looking into pictures, diagrams, videos, demonstrations, power points, charts, etc. Understand these features of your child. Teach him by drawing pictures, colouring them and writing different things in different colours. This creates a picture in their mind, and the recall of the colour on some page leads them to remember other things as well. For your child, underline, highlight and encircle the important things in different words, so that they can remember better though their visualization. However, these children are most likely to be distracted by the small movement in the classroom.
If your child is an auditory learner, be careful of what you talk. They catch simple words and may sometimes even ask you questions (which I agree may become awkward sometimes). They often learn through listening. Sometimes they hear their own sounds and learn it; like reading aloud to remember anything. To them, the parents must read out the letters and sentences, by keeping child’s eyes close, so that the child concentrates just on listening what is being read to them. Their learning could be best done by recording the lectures and making them listen to it in order to remember things better. These children may also use repetition to remember details better.
A Kinaesthetic learner involves himself or herself in first-hand physical experiences. They touch, feel and also need “hands on” learning in order to remember and learn better. These children are often the ones who always prefer to make their own notes and then read them. These children often find laboratory experiences, field trip and field work more interesting.
A mixture of all this is often found in many children today. One may prefer to listen and make notes of the lectures and then read the important details of the study material by underlining the details. Another child may prefer to just read the details and remember them visually. Yet another group of children may prefer to read aloud the details of the content and then make charts and diagrams or flowcharts out, with different colours and post different colour tags to make the things look visually attractive, in order to retain the details better. All these things make the child a combination of Kinaesthetic, Auditory and a Visual Learner.
As a parent, the role doesn’t end here. It is really important to understand how the child reacts to emotional situations. If your child is a visual learner, he/she would prefer to vent out emotions in the paper, by writing down about different experiences. An auditory learner would obviously prefer to talk out things, over the phone and even prefers to listen to the other person’s opinion. And a Kinaesthetic learner would most likely prefer to work continuously to find solutions for the problem, be it talking it out or compensating for the mistakes that they do.
Beyond the scope of the VAK Theory of Learning are three more learning styles identified, applicable to children above the age of 9 years. One is a logical learner, who learns only by understanding the links and logics behind everything. Second is the solitary learner, who reads by self, and makes interpretation of the details as given to be read. The third is the social learner who learns by talking and interacting with the others. These children are basically group learners, who depend on peer teaching.
Again, just as I said, do not be tensed if your child fails to learn things in your preferred way. Instead, observe your child and understand how he/she prefers to study and also understand how he/she retains details better. Just when you start with your child, initial days will be hard to understand his/her ways of learning. Few days post your time with your child; you will understand his or her ways of learning effectively. Eventually, that would help him/her read and retain details better, and that would also improve the academic performance of the child.
by Ms. Unmana Dutta. Masters student of Clinical Psychology, Amity University