We knew from the start that Ari was born with an ear for music. Even when he was still a baby he would move his head to the beat of lullabyes played while he sleeps. He used to only watch videos that had people singing and dancing. He memorizes TV ads by the background music used. He loves rock music and headbangs to rock concert videos. But the most incredible manifestation so far was when Turo downloaded the full soundtrack of the Cars movie. When the instrumentals play (the parts where it’s all orchestra music playing in the background), he’d shout out the exact scene that took place in the film while that music played. And we’d rush to look at the title of the instrumental only to find out that he was right.
With me dreaming of one day homeschooling my own children, I keep mental notes of the things that excite them, so that one day when I get to make lesson plans for them, they’ll be more interested to learn.
I recently read an article about the learning styles of children. Apparently, a child can be classified as an auditory learner (listener), a physical learner (mover) or a visual learner (looker). Then I remembered how Ari responds to music and realized that this love for music can actually be a tool for learning.
The advantage nowadays is that education has become a holistic and multi-faceted concept. Now we see the rise of progressive preschools and multiple intelligence. Parents have the power over their children’s full development if they expose them to a variety of activities and people or enroll them in institutions that recognize not only cognitive skills but an array of skills that can make each child an achiever in his own right.
But even before a child reaches school-age, a prominent learning style can already be observed, which should guide parents on ways to expose their children to learn about his environment. Learning styles are inborn and inherited, which a child may take from one parent or a blend of both.
How to identify a child’s learning style.
Listeners are more responsive to sounds and words. They may talk early and enjoy being read to. Movers achieve motor milestones such as crawling and walking ahead of schedule. They are well coordinated and seek out physical contact. Lookers are drawn to color, shape and motion. They have excellent eye-hand coordination and may enjoy playing with blocks or doing simple puzzles.
Keeping in mind a child’s learning style can make teaching new concepts easier. Take counting for example. A listener can easily master this skill by counting aloud. A mover may benefit from using blocks or an abacus while a looker may find it easier to count pictures or objects as he points to them.
Over time, children tend to settle into a preferred way of learning. In the process, however, children may tend to screen out less favored forms of information which can eventually limit their options in terms of learning. If this occurs, a listener may have a hard time memorizing math facts on flash cards, a mover may be up and out of his seat when inside a classroom, and a looker may have difficulty mastering phonics.
How parents can help children maximize their learning ability.
Parents must first identify their children’s their learning style and use this to develop strategies for play and learning. Toys and games can be chosen to build on a particular learning strength as well as compensate for the lack of strength in a particular learning style. Exposing children to new activities that can boost his other skills can open up possibilities for a more balanced and confident learner, regardless of the means of instruction.
Nurture a love for learning.
Learning can be fun if done without pressure and undue expectations. Never force your child to learn concepts at a prescribed pace. Forcing them to hold the pencil properly or memorize the sequence of the alphabet when they are not ready will only delay the learning process and may cause a level of disinterest that may be difficult to change. They are bound to learn these concepts and skills as they grow up and there is no incentive for the child to speed up the process. Instead, parents must instill a love for learning from the time their child is born towards a lifelong process of discovery that will be both exciting and informative. Together with providing enjoyable learning opportunities through toys, games and travel, children must also be left to explore by themselves. Only to prove again what a tough balancing act parenting can be.
Contents from this post drew heavily from an article on Children’s Learning Styles by Lauren Bradway.