A dear friend who is also a Speech-Language Pathologist and Reading Specialist recommended How Your Child Learns Best: Brain-Friendly Strategies You Can Use to Ignite Your Child’s Learning and Increase School Success by Dr. Judy Willis to me. While this book is designed for use of parents whose children are in traditional school systems, Dr. Willis intended parents to use this information to help their child at home to become a “joyful, successful learner.” As homeschoolers, this is also what we want for our children. We just don’t have the traditional school component.
Different Learning Styles
Dr. Willis divides learners into two main categories: Visual-Spatial-Kinesthetic (VSK) and Auditory-Sequential (AS).
Those who learn via VSK tend to explore the big picture before they focus on details. They want to know how they relate to what they are going to study. They learn best through visual aids such as videos, diagrams, photographs, and demonstrations. They also benefit from incorporating movement into their learning activities and doing hands-on projects. Some of their challenges are that they can be easily distracted and have a hard time communicating the steps that they took to solve a problem.
AS learners are the ones most traditional schools are designed to support. They appreciate sequential notes or instructions. They read well and communicate effectively through written and oral language. They also are good at memorizing facts. They can have difficulty grasping non-verbal concepts and relationships.
Dr. Willis offers “specific suggestions for improving child’s attention span, memory, higher-level thinking, and reasoning.” She emphasizes that it benefits all children to have multisensory learning activities. She also stresses the benefits of frequent rest periods. Such rest periods might include moving, stretching, singing, playing music, or having a drink of water. She also offers strategies for helping learning in reading, math, science, and social studies.
While much of the information included is available in other books on learning styles and the neuroscience of learning, if you are new to understanding learning styles, How Your Child Learns Best is a helpful resource.