Children learn in different ways. Educators and parents can work together to observe the preferred learning style of each child while also seeking to offer a wide range of experiences.
Learning styles is a term that refers to different ways in which we learn, process, and retain information. All young children learn through meaningful hands-on experiences—through touching, doing, and moving. And children also learn through seeing and hearing. As you observe your child, you will begin to identify strengths and preferences that tell you something about your child’s preferred learning style.
You want to foster your child’s strengths, but remember that it helps to challenge him to grow as well. Your child can excel in a variety of areas. Therefore, offer a variety of experiences to help your child develop new strengths and interests that will broaden his or her understanding of the world. ~AbilityPath
The most common learning styles you will see in the early years are:
- Visual: The students with a visual style of learning will remember information best when presented with pictures or images. Visual learners will often recognize numbers and letters better than peers with another type of learning style.
- Auditory: Auditory learners are best able to understand when they hear information. In early education, auditory learners are more likely to prefer listening to stories or telling stories as a major method of understanding information.
- Kinesthetic: Students with a kinesthetic learning style are the physically active members of the class. The students learn best by manipulating objects and engaging in physical activities to learn the material. ~ConcordiaOnlineEducation
If you do not know your child’s learning style, also check out: Do You Know Your Child’s Learning Style
Once you know your child’s learning style, how can you use this information to differentiate his or her education? I’m glad you asked…
If your child is a visual learner, it does not mean that he or she should not be taught in other ways, as well. We want to build well-rounded learning programs. But, differentiating instruction, when appropriate, can help create a life-long love of learning for each child while better supporting development.
Using Differentiated Instruction to Support All Learners
You can check for signs of differentiated learning opportunities in your child’s early education classroom. You can also bring this idea into your home by providing materials in a variety of ways. Books, for example, could be given in print form, as audio books, as an interactive game, etc.
More examples and ideas? Veteran educator, Carol Ann Tomlinson, is passionate about the subject and suggests,
There are lots of possibilities. Teachers can use graphic organizers to help some kids take notes more effectively — there are good ones available commercially. We can give kids the options of working alone or with a partner. We can provide two ways to express learning rather than just one. We can highlight text — marking the really essential portions of a chapter with a highlight marker — to support reading of English language learners or students with learning disabilities. We can make sure to do whole-to-part teaching rather than only part-to-whole. We can meet with small groups of students while other kids are doing required written work. There really are many things we can do to make classrooms a better fit for more kids without “breaking the bank” of our planning time. ~EducationWorld
Tomlinson says that the best way to get started is to “become a kid watcher.” Whether you are a parent or an early childhood educator, by observing children and their patterns closely you can learn how to best help them learn and grow.