You may be thinking “Why is understanding learning styles important when I’m thinking about parenting?” or “what does my child’s education have to do with the way that I parent them?”
Actually, it has a lot to do with parenting. In fact, if you gain a better understanding of your child’s learning style, you just may find parenting them a bit easier and more intuitive.
Let me back up a bit… If I have learned anything over the past two decades of my career, it is really that there is not just one way for everyone to learn. Everyone learns differently. This led me to begin to think, well if everyone learns differently, then perhaps we should think about parenting differently. If we know not to expect the same outcome from kid a, b, and c then should we parent them the same? Because kids are not one-size-fits-all and strategies to help you deal with everyday parenting situations should not be either.
The more you are able to understand about your child and the way their brain works, the better you will be able to communicate with them in an effective manner. Rather than feeling as though you’re talking at a wall, you may actually feel that your child has heard and understood you.
What exactly is a learning Style?
Well, in general, learning styles are the different ways that we all learn, process and retain information. Of course, all young children learn through meaningful hands-on experiences such as touching, doing and moving. But as they grow, some children will develop skills more effectively through hearing or seeing the information. Learning styles are not forever. They may change and grow with time. However, knowing your child’s learning style right now can be very helpful.
How many learning styles are there?
There are anywhere between 3-7 different learning styles, depending on the age and developmental stage of your child. For the purpose of this blog, today we are going to identify and explore the three most common styles among young children: Visual, Auditory (hearing), Kinesthetic (Touch & Experience)
- Those who learn through seeing.
- These individuals internalize and synthesize information when it is presented to them visually in a meaningful way. They tend to respond well to arrows, charts, and diagrams. And they often love to use a variety of colors!
- Those who learn through hearing.
- These individuals learn through participation in discussion and through verbal direction. Auditory learners don’t always look directly at a book during story time…so don’t think they aren’t paying attention!
- Those who learn through moving and doing.
- These individuals are hands-on learners that need to take a physical role in the learning process. These are the learners that have the most difficulty learning in a conventional classroom setting. They excel when you turn learning into a game or fun activity. Also, go ahead and give them that stress ball that’s been lying around…they can squeeze it while participating in story time. This may help integrate other parts of the body into the learning process.
Click here to get your very own easy to digest Learning Styles Explained.
Learning Style Awareness
My daughter, P (4½), is a singer (like her mommy). She walks around the house making up songs to everyday tasks. She remembers songs that she’s heard once or twice and can typically repeat back information that she has heard or listened to. I believe she may be an auditory learner. T, my 2-year-old son, tends to learn things differently. I think he may be a kinesthetic learner. Obviously, he’s too young to really know. But I can tell you that he puts his whole body into anything and everything he does.
How to apply this to parenting
Knowing what type of learner your child is can have a great impact on how you parent them. For example, I know not to get too frustrated with P when I’m reading her a book and she’s not sitting next to me ‘paying attention’ by intently looking at the pictures. Most of the time she’s sitting on the other side of the bed or talking to me throughout the story. But if I asked her to tell me what the story was about, she is able to summarize it for me each time.
When I need to have an important conversation with her or have her participate in something, I know that she needs to HEAR me in order for her to process it. She doesn’t need to simply see the mess on the floor. She needs to hear me say there is a mess on the floor and ask her to clean it up. As she’s gotten older, I have begun to ask her to repeat to me what she’s heard as I know that auditory learners process information through talking and hearing. This has been a very valuable parenting tool in my house as it has greatly decreased my own frustrations when communicating with her.
Should I be worried about figuring out my child’s learning style?
Do you know what kind of learner your child is? If not, that’s ok. I’m not suggesting that you need to immediately run out and test your children to find out what type of learner they are. What I am recommending is to start by observing. Observe your child, early. How do they tend to remember information? How do they learn new skills?
If you want to take a deeper dive into this, check out my FREE 10 Facts about Learning Styles or contact me and I’ll help you determine your child’s learning style. Your child may learn in a VERY different way than you do.
Communicating with your child can be very frustrating if you are expecting them to respond in one way and they do the exact opposite. I can’t tell you how many times I have had parents come to see me, stating their child never listens to what they say. While having a conversation with me, I am watching the child move around the room, looking as if they are unaware of what is being said. Yet when I ask the child if they know what mommy or daddy just said, often times they are able to relay the information – verbatim. Just because your child is not sitting quietly in front of you appearing to listen intently, does not mean that they are not hearing what you are saying.
Would you be able to breathe a little easier knowing your child is understanding you regardless of what their physical body is doing? I know I would.
Noticing early in life how your child learns can help you all in the future. 😊