Your child's learning style...

Your child's learning style...

Your child's learning style...

Meenakshi, mother to two curious twin girls, Ira and Isha, wanted to teach them about the animal kingdom. She brought a colourful picture book and sat with her daughters. As they went page by page, the girls discovered things about wild animals. While Ira continued exploring wildlife, Isha wandered off disinterestedly.

Meenakshi noticed her disinterest, but continued engaging Ira with the book.
A few minutes later, she played The Lion King on TV. Hearing the roar of the lion, Isha came back running to the room. And then followed the long list of questions — where does a lion live, what does it eat, how does it sound? Meenakshi then learnt that each of her daughters learn differently.

Each child is different and has a learning style that is unique to his or her personality. Observing a child’s behaviour at an early age can indicate a likely learning style. Like in Meenakshi’s case, she realised that while Ira was attracted to the colourful picture book, Isha could relate to the interactive nature of the programme on TV. The comfort levels of children, their interaction with the environment and the interest exhibited are all indicative of what holds the child’s attention and what doesn’t. This ultimately helps in comprehending how a child learns.

To each her own
When children are unable to follow or cope with the conventional chalk and blackboard teaching methods, parents often classify them as ‘incapable’ or ‘not bright in studies’. However, it is critical to understand that each child learns differently.

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences recognises the different intelligences that children respond to. These intelligences relate to a person’s unique aptitude and ways they may prefer to demonstrate their intellectual abilities. These are adopted in schools as different styles of learning, focusing on different aspects of a child’s personality. Whether it is through games, music or dance, a connection can be seen between what is understood and how it manifests:

  • Kinesthetic intelligence: This means an ability to understand things through bodily awareness, movement and touching. Learning is best grasped by these children when they engage in physical activities to understand the material.
  • Visual learning intelligence: This is a style which is adopted by children who respond expressively to visual aids. They process information through print rich games, puzzles, pictures, drawings, images and multimedia. It’s important that preschools use multiple platforms like TV, board games and digital games to teach such learners.
  • Verbal intelligence: Such learners respond to sounds and learn effectively by listening to multimedia programmes and hearing stories. They are more receptive to people speaking and are able to relate by talking as well. These children retain information because of their ability to effectively use language. Educators can take help of some floor games to build stories around the theme being taught.
  • Logical intelligence: Logical learners follow patterns, rules, order and categorisation of work. Clear explanations which elaborate ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ keep them engaged and interested.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence: Intrapersonal learners have strong intuition, motivation and confidence in their abilities. They do their best work when they are in a quiet space with nobody else around to distract them. They are guided by their own models of work and have the capacity to understand themselves, their fears and motivations.
  • Interpersonal intelligence: A child who can relate to people, understand their emotions, respond sensitively and maintain relations in an easy manner has an interpersonal learning style. This is a child who works well in teams and is good, clear and straightforward in his or her interactions.

  • Rhythmic intelligence: Musical-rhythmic learners are sensitive to rhythm, music and sounds. Rhythmic learners have a skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. They are often able to recognise structures and patterns from sounds and speech. This is the reason why most early education centres teach children through rhymes and music.
  • Naturalistic intelligence: Parents can identify if their child is a naturalistic learner by simply observing her or his affinity for the natural world. Naturalist learners enjoy observing animals, interacting with pets, exploring nature, gardening and hiking.

It is important to understand that, often, these intelligences overlap. It is also
important to expose children to different styles of learning, even though it may be challenging for them. This will help them explore other ways of learning the same lesson. They must be empowered to learn differently when their suitable learning method is not available. Therefore, it is always advised to integrate multiple modalities to teach children. Another way to enhance learning is to focus on children’s area of interest.

Expose them to opportunities to become an expert in the area that they feel passionate about. Acknowledging their interests and talents tells you a lot about their learning style. There are several patterns of learning and the best that a caregiver can do is step  observe what seems to be working for their child and help them build their strengths.

(The author is vice-president, Sesame Schoolhouse)