There is growing recognition that different people have different learning
styles. While teaching methods used in schools are still mostly geared to
certain styles of learning and not others, homeschooling parents can custom
tailor their approach to the way each child learns best and to what each child
might need to develop. To that end, it can be helpful to know how to recognize
that a given learning style is at play.
What are the different learning styles?
How learning styles are categorized and labelled depends on what system you
go by there are a number of such systems and it's important to remember
that any categorization of learning differences between people is just a working
model of human diversity in this area and a tool for choosing how to present
information to a learner. The model is not the reality and it's important
not to get too hung up on labels and generalizations. Use whatever system
(or combination of systems) proves useful as a guideline, but remember to
discard the tool whenever it gets in the way of seeing each unique, multidimensional
child for who he/she really is, working with how he/she is actually learning
and processing at any given time, and recognizing what his/her capabilities
Here are some of the ways various systems categorize differences in learning
style based on sensory modalities (some also add or replace categories based
on cognitive abilities):
- Visual, Auditory, Tactile/Kinesthetic
- Visual, Auditory, Tactual, Kinesthetic
- Visual, Verbal, Kinesthetic
- Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing, Kinesthetic
There are also systems that are not based on sensory modalities:
- Cognitive differences in perceiving (concrete or abstract) and processing
information (active or reflective): Concrete Active, Concrete Reflective,
Abstract Active, Abstract Reflective
- Brain hemisphere dominance: Left Brain (logical, analytical, sequential),
Right Brain (intuitive, holistic, synthesizing), Whole Brain
- Gender differences: How boys tend to learn, how girls tend to learn
- Temperament differences according to style of communication (concrete
or abstract) and style of action (utilitarian or cooperative): Artisans
(Concrete Utilitarians), Guardians (Concrete Cooperators), Idealists (Abstract
Cooperators), Rationals (Abstract Utilitarians)
- Astrological differences according to, among other things, the sign and
aspects of Mercury in the person's natal chart
Finally, there are two systems that take into account that a learning style
is a profile of both sensory modalities and cognitive processes:
- Multiple Intelligence profiles based on degrees of reliance on each of
the following dimensions: Visual/Spatial, Verbal/Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical,
Bodily/Kinesthetic, Musical/Rhythmic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal (the
7 original categories of Multiple Intelligences as outlined by Howard Gardner)
and Naturalistic (an 8th category added by Gary Harms)
- Pedagogical Profiles based on "mental gestures" as outlined
by Antoine de La Garanderie: Visual or Auditory modality of mental imagery,
combined with the Reproductive or Transformative nature of that imagery
and with an Application-oriented or an Explanation-oriented process of understanding.
Learning "disabilities" and giftedness
Children are often called "exceptional" when their learning differences
fall outside the range of the norm (the norm being simply what is or has been
statistically common). Children at one end of the bell curve are often labelled
"learning disabled" while those at the other are seen as "gifted."
It's not uncommon for a "differently abled" child to be "disabled"
in some areas and "gifted" in others. The information below on Learning
Styles and Multiple Intelligences is relevant to how any child learns, but
can be particularly helpful in understanding the learning process of "exceptional"
children. We also have a page of resources for Learning
Differences and Special Needs (includes resources for the gifted).
Beginner's Guide has a series of articles on
LD Pride has a page on Learning
styles and multiple intelligences that includes explanations on what the
different styles and intelligences are, using the Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic
categorization and Howard Gardner's MI categorization. The site also has tips
on how to use your style in learning. For a fee, they offer a Learning
Styles Test to Discover How You Learn.
has an online questionnaire
to help you determine your learning preference from among its 4 categories:
Visual, Aural, Read/write and Kinesthetic. The test indicates a person's preferences
but not necessarily their strengths.
The Learning Disabilities Resource Community has a free course on Learning
to Learn as well as a free Multiple
Intelligence Inventory questionnaire you can fill out to find out what
your MI score profile is.
You can find out what your child's Mercury Sign is by getting a free
birth chart calculation (a calculation of the zodiac positions of all
the planets, including Mercury) from Cafe Astrology. You will need to input
your child's date, time and place of birth to fill out the birth chart form.
Once you know what Mercury sign is involved, you can look up the interpretation
on the page for Mercury
in the different zodiac signs, which describes the meaning in terms of
tendencies in communication, thinking and learning.
Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences,
by Howard Gardner
In Their Own Way, by Thomas Armstrong
Comprendre et Imaginer, par Antoine de La
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