I clearly remember the Chalk and Board days when my teacher used to teach my class of 40 students in a uniform style or strategy and most of us used to end up giving a chorused reply.
I am sure many of you have also grown up in similar classrooms as front-benchers and back-benchers.
The point here is not to argue about the pros and cons of teaching methodologies of the years gone by. The point is to leverage and learn from what a huge body of Research now tells us.
A significant amount of Research is now available on the Importance of Foundation Years (0 -6 years of age).
This Research has thrown a lot of light on how Teaching – Learning strategies should be customized to Student – Learning preferences.
The simple logic behind this advocacy is that we are all born with certain learning preferences.
We may grow into certain learning styles with passage of time and add on to our innate learning styles – that’s a distinct possibility as well.
But to say that all children in a particular class learn optimally through a single teaching style is clearly an outdated strategy.
Teachers today practice varied teaching strategies that are suited for varied learning styles.
As a parent, it is equally important for you to know the same.
Here is why you should know about various Learning styles , dominant among young children:
- Your little one shows no interest in a reading session but the minute you put on the audio version of the story, your child is all ears!
- Your child is not interested in writing pages of continuous A’s , B’s and C’s but the minute you show them a picture and ask them to trace the letters underneath the picture, your child is all eyes!
- Your child cannot decipher calculations like 2 + 2 = 4 but the minute you draw some match stick figures and explain addition, your child gets the right numbers.
- Your child is a shy speaker and refuses to sing a rhyme or a song at home, but the minute you put on the audio version of the rhyme, your child is happy to sing along.
- Your child doesn’t remember the colour of fruits like orange or strawberries but the minute you let the child touch and feel a real strawberry / orange, your child remembers their colour for a long time afterwards.
To understand the above better, let’s talk about certain Learning styles in detail.
For classroom and children related learning, we often talk about four major learning styles:
Visual Learning style – Children with a dominant visual learning style, learn better through pictures, colour coded lines, posters, charts, graphs, videos, diagrams, detailed notes, directions on a map etc.
They love to read a story or a poem, learn faster if the text in the story has visual effects, recognize text and pictures easily in storybooks, hoardings and Bill Boards.
Auditory Learning style – Children with a dominant auditory leaning style learn better through reading aloud, self-talk, audio books, recording & listening to directions.
They love to set a rhythm to their rhymes and stories, hum along a poem, give sound effects to what they are writing and love to listen to audios repeatedly. They may also love to have an audience who is forever willing to listen to their chatter, their rhymes and their songs.
Kinaesthetic Learning style – Children with a dominant Kinaesthetic Learning style learn better through drama, role play, charades, gestures, hands on activities and enactment. In short, they learn better through doing things themselves.
They love to act out a story, watch others act it out, like to touch and feel objects & props, are more open to physical gestures of affection like shaking hands, holding hands, putting arms around each other, dancing & miming.
Reading & Writing Learning style – Children with such a dominant learning style learn better through comic strips, learn better if someone explains to them in detail on paper, write their homework assignments, learn rhymes & stories after writing them out, learn through the print word in books, newspapers etc.
They love to read all instructions before attempting a puzzle or a game, refer to dictionaries, underline words while reading, play games like Scrabble and eventually like to take notes in class, write a diary about their day to day routine, as they grow up and join Formal school.
Needless to say, our children often display an eclectic mix of several learning styles during any given task as well. Your child may like to sing, dance, mime and read story books aloud at the same time. Which is also fine! Young children are often experimenting and developing their learning styles during the Foundation years.
An introduction to varied learning styles helps a parent to provide the right environment at home, understand children better and refrain from building stereotypes around their learning graph
If a child is not happy while writing, it does not mean that he/ she is not learning at all. It could just mean that maybe you need to vary your strategy.
If a child is not happy reciting rhymes in front of a group, it does not mean that he/ she is not learning. It may just mean that your child is exercising his/ her right to remain quiet.
So parents, loosen up your seat belts and enjoy the journey.
One style does not fit all.