How Discovering My Kids' Learning Style Stopped the Homework Battle


This kid here is a mover and a shaker. If you were to meet him in person, he'd most likely give you a hand shake and a hug. He's a touchy feely kind of guy, much like his dad. I thought it was just an inherited trait that meant he was affectionate, but I've recently discovered it goes beyond that.

Helping him with first grade homework has been frustrating for us both lately. I couldn't understand why at first. I'd always had great success helping my oldest son. He's much like me--a visual learner. That's when I realized that my first grader is very much unlike me. His learning style is altogether different. So I did some research to see what his learning style is and how best to approach him. 


The three basic learning styles are:

Visual learners: They learn by watching. They use images to remember, creating a picture in their heads. To learn spelling, for example, they may picture the way a word looks.

Visual learners may also: Enjoy art and drawing, read maps, charts and diagrams well, like mazes and puzzles

Auditory learners:  Auditory learners benefit from traditional teaching techniques. They learn well when directions are read aloud or information is presented and requested verbally. They remember facts when presented in a poem, song or melody. 

Auditory learners also like: To tell stories and jokes, To play word games, To use tape recorders

Kinesthetic learners learn best through movement and physical manipulation. They like to find out how things work and want to touch, feel and experience what they are being asked to learn. Most kindergartners are physical learners, but by second or third grade their learning styles may change to visual or auditory. However, half of all students in high school and beyond remain kinesthetic learners.

Physical learners may also: Need to manipulate, handle and try things out, Have a short attention span, Show you things rather than telling you about them.

I've discovered that my middle child is a kinesthetic learner. And I realize I've been sabotaging his learning because he wants to just do it and get his hands on it, but I want to show him first and do it for him. No wonder we were both frustrated.

Armed with this information, here's how I'll be helping my little tactile learner better. I'll let him:

  • Read aloud and track words on a page with a finger

  • Write things down multiple times to commit them to memory

  • Highlight and underline information

  • Play with a stress ball or toy while studying

  • Move around or take frequent breaks

  • Do hands-on activities, such as building models or playing games

If you have a visual learner, they learn best from seeing information on a chalkboard or in an illustration and may grow impatient listening for long periods of time. Strategies for visual learners include:

  • Using flash cards

  • Studying charts, tables, and maps

  • Drawing illustrations

  • Writing things down and reviewing notes

  • Highlighting and underlining

  • Color-coding information

    Auditory learners are typically good at absorbing information from spoken words. Strategies that work well for auditory learners include:

  • Talking to themselves or with others about what they’re learning

  • Reciting important information aloud, perhaps recording it and playing it back

  • Reading a book and listening to the audio book at the same time

  • Using word associations

  • Setting information to a tune and singing it to help remember it

  • Limiting distracting noises

I'm so glad the light bulb went off early in the school year. And I'm already watching my two-year-old to see where she stands when it comes to her learning style.

Parenting is more than just raising kids, it's understanding how they are wired so we can lead them wisely. Here's to happy parenting!