What is your child’s learning style?

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By April Thompson, LMFT


Did you know that children learn in different ways, and one child’s learning style might be different than another?  Typical public school in America is based on the auditory (lecture) format.  What if your child’s primary learning style is something else though?   If this is the case, you might find that your child has difficulty paying attention, is easily distracted, becomes disruptive, and/or is frequently moving around in his/her seat.  Hmm, this sounds a bit like ADHD.   So what are the other learning styles?  Montessori schools do a great job emphasizing all the styles.  Think about the 5 senses and this will give you a better idea:  Hearing, Sight, Touch, Smell and Taste.


Hearing style:   Lecture format focuses on hearing.  These learners do great in the classroom and are able to stay focused easily.  Auditory learners do well when there is classical music playing in the background and respond well to verbal praise.


Sight style: Visual learners do great in a classroom where the teachers uses visual aids (whiteboard, projector screen, videos, book in front of the child, pictures, etc.) When stressed, at home, writing them an affirmation note or drawing them a picture might help them feel better.


Touch style:  Touch focus learning is known as kinesthetic where hands-on activities are great for these learners (finger paints, crafts, science projects, building things, etc.) If a child has this learning style and has a hard time focusing on lecture, it can help if they have a squishy ball to hold onto.  These children at home tend to gravitate toward tactile objects and enjoy feeling various textures.   They may have had a special blanket or stuffed animal when they were younger and loved to bundle up in covers.  When stressed, giving them a back rub, a bath, brushing their hair, or putting lotion on their arms and legs works well.


Smell and taste style:  Smell and taste focus usually are categorized in the sensory oriented child.  This is the child who is always putting things in their mouth or loves to smell things.  In the classroom, it’s hard to accommodate for these learners, but one suggestion that helps is letting them have approved snacks to chew on throughout the day.  These children do great with activities that include making edible items, or working with things that have various scents.  When stressed at home, they might benefit from aromatherapy, spritzing their bedding with a linen spray, or using scented plug-ins.   Lavender is a great calming scent.  They also love getting sweet treats.


Taking this into consideration, knowing your child’s learning language can also help you with discipline and meeting their developmental and emotional needs.  For example, a kinesthetic child who is being defiant probably won’t listen to you telling him what to do, unless you get down to his level, look him in the eyes, and put your hand on his arm or shoulder then tell him what you need him to do.  


If you child exhibits extreme obsessions with any of the senses or has reactions to certain senses, you might want to have them evaluated.  Autism spectrum disorders often display exaggerated aversions to taste, smell, and center tactile sensations and textures.   They also often exhibit visual obsessions with shiny or lighted objects.  ADHD is a disorder that affects a child’s ability to focus on auditory and visual processes.


If you have any questions about this article, feel free to contact the author, April Thompson, LMFT with Spero Family Services at 714-330-8708, or email: sperofamilyservices@yahoo.com. 


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