Children are born ready to learn. Yet all children -- and adults -- usually have a preferred style in which they learn more easily. There is no right or wrong style, but to work effectively with your child and their learning center, you must first understand how they learn best.
The three most common learning styles are visual, auditory and physical (kinesthetic).
Visual learners learn by watching. They use images to help them remember. Visual learners normally enjoy art and drawing, can read maps, charts and diagrams well and like mazes and puzzles.
If your child is a visual learner, talk to their learning center to determine if the techniques they offer stimulate the strengths of a visual learner. Making charts to organize information and using flashcards for key information helps visual learners. Using to-do lists, assignment logs and written notes can also be beneficial.
Traditional teaching techniques work well for auditory learners. They have more understanding when directions are read aloud, or when information is presented and requested verbally. Facts that are presented in a song, a poem or a melody stay with them. Auditory learners like telling stories and jokes, playing word games and using tape recorders.
Reading out loud together helps them hear and comprehend the instructions. Auditory learners also benefit from working with a partner so they can talk out solutions to a problem. By writing a sequence of steps to solve a problem, the auditory child can read the steps out loud to discover a solution. Make sure the learning center has staff that will devote time to talking through solutions with your auditory learner.
Physical learners work best with movement -- they want to find out how things work, and like to touch, feel and experience what they are being asked to learn. Most kindergartners are physical learners, and some evolve later into visual or auditory types, but over half of all students in high school and beyond remain physical learners. These children may have a short attention span, need to be moving to learn and would prefer to show you things rather than tell you about them.
Physical learners excel when working in math and science laboratories, and in creating and participating in dramatic productions. They enjoy field trips, making models and creating skits. Encouraging them to take notes and draw diagrams helps them better organize what they're learning.
Math tutor Diane Palumbo says, "It's crucial that the child learns the vocabulary associated with the methods, as this can provide understanding of the problems that are being asked."
When working with learning centers, Palumbo also advises "to reinforce the child's main educational school program with similar concepts. You can always provide some refreshers on the basics, but don't get too far ahead of what they're studying in school."
Rebecca Zook also teaches and tutors math to students of all ages. She says, "Math is an ability developed over time, with practice. This is the most important thing to demonstrate to your child." She adds, "tell them it's okay to make mistakes, and explain that when something feels difficult, it's just a normal part of the learning process that everyone goes through."
The learning center should be aware of the child's strengths and challenges in order to deliver instructions in ways that will accomodate their specific learning style. The center should teach the student coping skills for situations not geared for his/her learning style and help each child enjoy a feeling of achievement. Become an advocate and speak with your child's learning center to help your child realize their full potential.
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