Overview: Planning activities for your child isn’t enough for really learning material. You have to consider interests, developmental level, readiness, and most importantly children’s learning styles.
I’m always preaching to follow a child’s interest when planning themes and activities. When we plan around a child’s interests we know that they will become more engaged and develop a deeper meaning to their learning.
Related: The Secret to the Toddler Attention Span
But just considering their interests isn’t enough. We also need to be thinking about children’s learning styles. When we plan activities around their interests and focus on activities that support their learning style, we can ensure that our children will learn and be totally engaged in the learning process.
What are Children’s Learning Styles?
Children’s learning styles are the way in which our children learn best. Howard Gardner came up with 9 different learning types or multiple intelligences. They range from a broad category like auditory to a more honed in category like rhythmic. Knowing your specific learning type can come in handy when you get older and are thinking about the type of career you may want to pursue.
However, for young children, their are 3 different teaching and learning styles. These learning styles basically tell you how your child learns best. We can use this information when we are planning activities to ensure we are helping our children learn in the best possible way.
In the toddler and preschool stage, we want to plan activities that focus on their strongest learning style, but also provide activities in the other two learning styles. We do this to help our children experiment with different ways to learn and to help them grow into a well rounded individual.
Sometimes we don’t get a choice in how we learn something, especially as adults. By not always planning activities using the same style of learning, we are teaching our children how to adapt to different learning environments.
The three main learning styles are auditory learners, physical learners, and visual learners.
Auditory learners learn best through listening. These learners tend to hear something once and understand it. They like to listen first and act second.
Young auditory learners benefit from songs and rhymes. They love read alouds and books on tape. These kids usually are the ones talking all the time, especially trying to talk over you. They ask a lot of questions and need to talk through their problems.
Activities that involve listening and talking are best for auditory learners.
Most babies and toddlers fall under this type of learner. Physical learners are hands on. They need to explore everything with all of their senses. Touching, mouthing, and moving their body is the best way for them to learn.
Worksheets are pointless for these learners. They need manipulatives and materials that they can touch and move around in order to learn.
Physical learners love all things active. They need to be busy at all times and often can’t sit still. Reading is a challenge for these learners, but they love science and building. Any activity that involves the whole body will help them learn quickly.
Physical learners express themselves best through body language, and often need a physical activity to help them calm down.
The visual learning style is all about sight. Visual learners just need to see something in order to understand it. No explanation or manipulation of materials is needed. All they need is someone to demonstrate how to do the activity. Visual aids, models, and flashcards work best for these learners.
Visual learners express themselves through facial expressions and learn about others by watching their faces. They often imitate others.
Visual learners are your readers, and they have an extensive vocabulary. These learners have a huge imagination. They use their eyes to solve problems quickly. They just need time to look at the problem and solve it in their head. Working out different options or talking through a problem is not going to work for these learners.
Visual learners are typically neat and tidy. They notice when things are out of place or different very quickly.
A young child’s learning style, especially in the toddler years, is not set in stone. Young kids are continuously testing different ways to learn to find their best approach. As their parents and teachers, we need to experiment and provide a wide variety of activities to help them figure out their best learning style.