How to Identify Preferred Learning Styles in Children

Judy Willis, a noted author, teacher and neurologist, explains the learning differences among children in her book “How Your Child Learns Best.” Just as there are different types of learners, there are different ways of processing information 1. Students will primarily approach learning tasks according to how their brain processes information most successfully. Children can learn presented information through other learning styles, but it will be more difficult and less successful. When teachers and parents can identify a child’s preferred learning style, information can be presented in a way that actively engages the child.

Auditory Learners

Observe your child as she retells a story that she has read or movie she has seen.

Listen to her rate of speech while she relays the story. Auditory learners speak more slowly, as if they are listening to themselves speak.

Watch her eye position. Auditory learners keep their eyes usually poised to the right or to the left.

Notice the manner that she gestures. Auditory learners tend to point to their ears during conversation and rarely use their hands to communicate.

Listen to her word choices. An auditory learner’s vocabulary is heavy with words having to do with sound. She will choose words like: say, talk, tell, loud, quiet, hear and listen.

Visual Learners

Watch your child tell you about a book he just read or a movie he recently saw.

Listen to how fast he tells you the story. He may talk quickly to try to keep up with the images in his head.

Notice the direction of his eyes while he talks with you. Visual learners look up at the ceiling or sky to access their memory. It's almost as if he can see what he is telling you.

Watch how much he moves around and gestures while talking. Visual learners don’t just talk with their mouth; they talk with their hands, too.

Listen to his dialogue. He can paint pictures with his words. His word choices are words like: see, watch, show, picture and bright.

Kinesthetic Learners

Listen to your child tell you about her day at school. Kinesthetic learners measure their words carefully and speak slowly.

Watch her eyes while she recalls the day’s events. Her eyes will focus mostly down and to the right.

Look at the animated way she tells her story. Kinesthetic learners gesture toward their body and act out the event as though they are actually re-living what happened.

Pay attention to her tactile word choices. As a kinesthetic learner, she will more naturally use hands-on words like: grasp, tough, feel and concrete.