Bridging the gap in learning and teaching styles

Bridging the gap in learning and teaching styles

Learning style mismatch can potentially reduce a child’s learning capability by making him/her lose motivation and interest, writes Sindu Aven

It is an established fact that every child has a different learning style. There are the visual learners, who like to read and write; kinaesthetic learners who learn by practice and through touch-and-feel, as well as auditory learners, who learn by listening. Kinaesthetic learners can make calculations in their minds thinking about abacus beads they used years ago.

Visual learners demonstrate a high level of reading and comprehension. However, the auditory senses remain the most primary and among the first modes that expose children to learning. Ever since the first time children sing a rhyme, or an A-B-C-D song, they end up never forgetting its lyrics. Several children eventually realise that their auditory sense plays high for certain experiences, while their visual or kinaesthetic sense plays higher for the others. By acknowledging which route of learning suits one the best, learners can leverage the mode they are most comfortable with, for optimal comprehension and retention.

Consequences of Mismatch

The mismatch of learning style between an educator, teacher, or parent, and a child mostly emerges put of an ignorance of the fact that each child can have a unique and individual learning style. Most parents impose their own learning styles on their children. For example, if parents believe that auditory skills are important, they would usually expect children to read aloud and learn. The real concern arises when such impulsive parental impositions happen, and the child fails to understand why she is unable to learn the way her parents did. A learning style mismatch can potentially reduce a child’s learning capability by making her lose motivation and interest.

If a child is uncomfortable with a particular learning style, she gets withdrawn when forced to adopt the same style. The extent of the negative feedback would also depend on the level of aggression on the parent’s part. An easy way out might be to convince the child in her early years that there is a single best way to learn.

However, as the child grows up, forcing a singular style can lead to rebellion, not only waning interest in education but also strain the parent-child relationship.

Bridging the Gaps

To amend these pitfalls, parents need to attend workshops organised by schools that would enable them to observe what is it that makes their child learn faster, retain more and get more involved. Parents must recognise that such an effort is a minimal time investment, and can enable a child to find the right learning path, manage studies independently and start enjoying education. Some parents believe that since nobody taught them how to learn, their children will find their own way too.

The problem with this line of thought is that by the time a child finds his own way, it may be too late. Parents can avoid such concerns by enabling children to strengthen their foundations early and making them more independent. Clearly, these are significant incentives for parents to attend these sessions. Also, if both parents attend these workshops, it reduces inter-parent conflict, especially in front of children.

Awareness programmes impel parents to observe their children for a week and learn about the different ways he/she learns. It teaches parents to design learning activities that are built into daily household activities.

A child’s learning style is established by the third or fourth grade; so parents must familiarise themselves with it to help their children find the right skills to continue learning. In case of little ones, songs and games can be employed for effective learning. Once a parent knows what interests a child, they can explore how to develop those interests early on.

In this vein, while choosing extracurricular activities for children, parents should carefully select something their children are interested in. For instance, when enrolling a child for a mental math programme, one must consider if he/she actually likes calculating mentally or prefers building a robot or playing a game. Parents should not associate games and extracurricular activities with how it will play a role in school. They must develop the strengths children naturally have, for instance, enrol them in dance or sport class if they the kinaesthetic kinds. Through these activities, a plethora of opportunities will open up for children and they will have a better chance of success since they enjoy doing these activities.

Aligning teaching with learning styles

The Google generation of parents is leading a progressive trend whereby they are increasingly acknowledging the importance of recognising their children’s learning styles. To supplement the absence of traditional sources of information, they are now going online to explore their child’s unique approach to learning.

This trend has been driven by media, and the surge in more write ups and televised content is guiding parents in these aspects. The evolving background of parents also affects this trend. More cosmopolitan and socially mobile parents, who are interacting with other parents as well as educators, are acknowledging the changing conceptions about natural aptitudes and learning. Coupled with counselling services that are available in the metros, parents can successfully and easily bridge their children’s learning gaps today.

(The writer is an academic content head)

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