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A New Look at Learning Styles

For many years now, students and teachers have discussed learning styles. We look at whether a person learns best through visual, auditory, or kinesthetic channels as described in "What Is Your Child’s Learning Style?" Others discuss Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences as a way to think about learning styles. And finally, we talk about right-brain, creative learners versus left-brain, logical thinkers. The truth is that learning styles are much more complicated than any one of these.

Consider how your child learns best. Does he do better if he goes outside to learn, or does he prefer a classroom environment? Is working in a group easier than working alone? Do open-ended questions that have many correct answers excite her, or does she prefer just one correct answer? Does she like a neat, organized place to work or to lie across the bed? Is a brightly lit room best, or does he like a dimly lit corner? Would a stand-up desk be better than a regular one? Would he learn better if he could talk with someone, or is working quietly by himself better? Does she prefer to be thoughtful and slowly consider what she’s learning, or can she make quick decisions? It is better to write things down, or should she make a recording?

These are only a few ways people differ in their learning preferences. It is important to spend time discussing this with your child. Adults tend to think everyone learns the same way they do. But we are all very different. Sometimes changing something simple can make a huge difference in how easy—or difficult—it is to learn something new.

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