How Students Learn

Learning styles are various approaches or ways of learning. The three most common styles are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic or hands-on. To learn we rely on our senses to process information. Most people tend to use one sense more than the others. Knowing how our children learn can inform how we go about helping them obtain and retain information. Below is an outline of each of the three learning styles including strategies and activity suggestions.

The Auditory Learner

Learning Strengths of the Auditory Learner:
Remembers what they hear and say.
Highly engaged classroom and small-group discussions
Can remember oral instructions well.
Understands information best when they HEAR it.

Learning Strategies of the Auditory Learner:
Study with another person so you can talk about the information.
Recite out loud several times the information you want to remember.
Ask your teacher if you can submit some work as an oral presentation, or on take.
Make your own tapes of important points you want to remember and listen to in repeatedly. This is especially useful for learning materials for tests.
When reading, skim through and look at the pictures, chapter titles, and other clues and say out loud what you think the book could be about.
Make flash cards for various material you want to learn and use them repeatedly, reading them out loud. Use different colors to aid your memory.
Set goals for your assignments and verbalize them. Say your goal out loud each time you begin to work on a particular assignment.
Read out loud when possible. You need to HEAR the words as you read them to understand them well.
When doing math calculations, use grid paper to help you keep your algorithms organized.
Use different colors and pictures in your notes, workbooks, etc. This will help you remember them.

Activity Suggestions for the Auditory Learner:
Oral report or presentation
Teach the class or a group
Panel discussion
Tape recordings
Oral recitation
Musical performance
Puppet show
TV/radio show
Verbal games
Show and tell/current events
Peer tutoring

Activity Suggestions for the Auditory Learner:
Remembers what they say and what others say very well.
Remembers best through verbal repetition and by saying things aloud.
Prefers to discuss ideas they do not immediately understand.
Remembers verbal instructions well.
Enjoys the opportunities to present dramatically, including the use of music.
Finds it difficult to work quietly for long periods of time.
Easily distracted by noise, but also easily distracted by silence.
Verbally expresses interested and enthusiasm.
Enjoys class and group discussion.


The Visual Learner

Learning Strengths of the Visual Learner:Remembers what they read and write.
Enjoys visual projects and  presentations.
Can remember diagrams, charts, and maps well.
Understands information best when they SEE it.

Learning Strategies of the Visual Learner:
Write down things that you want to remember, you will remember them better that way.
Look at the person who is speaking to you; it will help you focus.
Try to work in a quiet place. Wear earmuffs or earplugs if necessary. Some visual learners do, however, like soft music in the backyard.
If you miss something a teacher says or do not understand, ask politely if he/she could repeat or explain.
Most visual learners learn best alone.
When studying, take many motes and write down lots of details.
When trying to learn material by writing out notes, cover your notes, then re-write.  Re-writing will help you remember better.
Use color to highlight main ideas.
Before starting an assignment, set a goal and write it down. Even post it in front of you. Even post in in front of you. Read it as you do the assignment.
Before reading a chapter or book, preview it first y scanning the pictures, headings, and so on.
Try to put your desk away from the door and windows.
Write your own flash cards. Look at them often and write out the main points, then check.
Where possible, use charts, maps, posters, films, videos, computer software, to study for from and to present  your work (where appropriate)

Activity Suggestions for the Visual Learner:
Coloring Books
Newspapers; magazines; books
Slide Shows; Power Point
Written Reports
Flash Cards
Crossword and Word Find Puzzles
Bulletin Boards

Visual Learner Traits:
Prefers to see words written down.
When something is being described, the visual learner also prefers to have a picture to view.
Prefers a time-line or some other similar diagram to remember historical events.
Prefers written instructions rather than verbal ones.
Observes all the physical elements in their environment.
Carefully organizes their learning environment.
Enjoys decorating their learning area.
Prefers photographs and illustrations with printed content.
Remembers and understands through the use of diagrams, charts, and maps.
Appreciates presentations using a document camera /projector or handouts
Studies materials by reading notes and organizing them in outline form.
Enjoys visual art activities


The Kinesthetic Learner                                                                          

Learning Strengths of the Kinesthetic Learner:
Remembers what they DO, what they experience with their hands or bodies (movement and touch).
Enjoys using tools or lessons which involve active/practical participation.
Can remember how to do things after they have done them once (motor memory).
Have good motor coordination.                                                                                          .

Learning Strategies of the Kinesthetic Learner:
To memorize, pace or walk around while reciting to yourself our using flash cards or notes.
When reading a short story or chapter in a book, try  a whole-to-part approach. This means that you should first scan the pictures, then read headings. Next, read the fist an last paragraphs and try to get a feel for the book.  You could also try skim-reading the chapter or short story backwards, paragraph by paragraph.
If you need to fidget, try doing so in a way which will not disturb or endanger others or yourself. Try jiggling your legs or feet, try hand/finger exercises, or handle a koosh ball, tennis ball, or something similar.
You might not study best while at a desk. Try lying on your stomach or back or, studying while sitting in a comfortable lounge chair, on a cushion, or on a bean bag chair.
Studying with music in the background is best (baroque music is best as opposed to heavily rhythm-based music.
Use colored construction paper to cover your desk or even decorate your study area. Choose your favorite color as this will help you focus. This technique is called color grounding.
Experiment with reading through colored transparencies to help you focus your attention. Try a variety of colors to see which colors work best.
While studying, take frequent breaks, but be sure to settle back down to work quickly. A reasonable schedule would be 15-25 minutes of study, 3-5 minutes of break time.
When memorizing information, try closing your eyes and writing the information in the air or on a surface with your finger. Picture the works in your head as you are doing this. Hear the words in your head, too. Later, when you try to remember this information, close your eyes and try to see it with your minds eye and to hear it in your head.
When learning new information, make task cards, flash cards, card games, floor games, etc. This will help you process the information.

Activity Suggestions for the Kinesthetic Learner:
Rocking back and forth while reading
Make a video show
Field trips
Task cards
Role play
Walking and reading
Musical performances
Science labs
Cut-and-paste tasks
Coloring books
Artistic creations

Kinesthetic Learner Traits:
Remembers what they DO very well.
Remembers best through getting physically involved in whatever is being learned.
Enjoys acting out a situation relevant to the study topic.
Enjoys making and creating.
Enjoys opportunities to build and physically handle learning materials.
Will take notes to keep busy but will not often use them.
Enjoys using computers.
Physically expresses interest and enthusiasm by getting active and excited.
Has trouble staying still or in one place for  a long time.
Enjoys hands-on activities,
Tends to what to to fiddle with small objects while listening or working.
Tends to want to eat snacks while studying.