Did you know your son has a learning style? In fact, we all identify with a learning style – or a combination of styles. A learning style is the method an individual uses to understand information best.
With three main learning styles observed – auditory, visual, and tactile – it’s unproductive to approach every student with the same teaching technique. However, with the large student-to-teacher ratios in conventional public school systems, the power to assess each student and individualize instruction based on learning style is unattainable. Because of this, some students fall behind and feel inadequate in the classroom, and a learning difficulty is often blamed for the student’s differences.
You know your son is intelligent and wants to learn, but how do you know which learning style your son aligns with? And how can you ensure his specific learning needs are met?
First, let’s review the basics behind each learning style:
Auditory Learning Style
According to FamilyEducation.com, auditory learners acquire information best through speech and lecture techniques, such as direct, verbal communication. This learning style is typically seen with traditional teaching methods, where concepts and lessons are taught through verbal presentation,1 and students are expected to retain information by listening, taking notes, and asking questions.
Visual Learning Style
Visual learners understand information best when concepts and directions are expressed through pictures, graphs, movies, etc.1 Visual learners prefer teaching methods they can see; they find the most success in the classroom when lessons are partnered with a demonstration or a visual representation. Visual learners retain information by associating images with ideas.
Tactile Learning Style
Tactile and kinesthetic learners find success in their studies when they are actively moving, feeling, and experiencing lessons first-hand.1 Tactile-kinesthetic learners find fulfillment and advancement in the classroom when they are empowered to engage fully with their education. It is important to note that auditory and visual learners benefit from tactile teaching methods, but tactile learners do not find equal benefit from teaching methods rooted in the other learning styles – especially auditory.
Why Your Son’s Learning Style Matters
Maggie Dent – author, educator, and parenting specialist – highlighted an important study conducted by Ken and Rita Dunn, professors from St. John’s University in New York, in her article What Boys Need Best. The study states that “only a third of students remember even 75% of what they hear in a normal class period,” and “tactile or kinesthetic learners are the main candidates for failure in traditional school classrooms.”2
Additionally, according to education consultant and author Susan Winebrenner, an average of 50-60% of today’s students identify as tactile-kinesthetic learners.3
With these commanding statistics, it’s no wonder so many young men struggle in school. Today’s classrooms and teaching strategies must adapt to promote each learning style for our students to thrive.
If your son is struggling to remain engaged in his education, achieve passing grades, or understand information delivered through traditional methods of lecture and discussion, take the time to determine how your son learns best. Then:
- Find out how lessons are administered in your son’s classes
- Meet with your son’s teachers to discuss how his learning style can be better supported at school and home
- Talk to your son about his goals, next steps, and if switching to a new school is necessary
Sometimes, a change of pace and environment makes a world of difference in how young men learn and find success.
At GRA, it is our mission to take an active role in each student’s education, ensuring every young man finds value in his work, realizes his potential, and makes strides toward continued success. This starts by discovering and activating each student’s specific learning style.
Pinpoint which learning style your son aligns with by asking him to complete a quick 20-question quiz provided by EducationPlanner.org.4
1 Farwell, Terry. Family Education. "Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic Learners." Accessed December 17, 2015. http://school.familyeducation.com/intelligence/teaching-methods/38519.html.
2 Dent, Maggie. Maggie Dent. “What Boys Need Most.” Accessed November 16, 2015. http://www.maggiedent.com/sites/default/files/articles/17_What_boys_need_most%5B1%5D.pdf.
3 Winebrenner, S and Kiss, L. (2014). Teaching Kids with Learning Difficulties in Today’s Classroom. pg. 48. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.
4 Education Planner. “What's Your Learning Style?” Accessed December 17, 2015. http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles.shtml.