Do You Know Your Child’s Learning Style? A guide to identifying your child’s learning style and making the most of study time

The scenario may be familiar: your child is committed to doing well on an upcoming test.  She sits at the dining room table and “studies” for one hour.  She’s disappointed with her grade.  For the next test, she vows to study harder.  She sits at the dining room table and “studies” for two hours–no improvement. Frustration sets in.  

The disappointing results may not be the result of the material or a lack of effort.  Your child may just be studying the wrong way–for her..  We have a preconception of what serious studying looks like:  sitting still, pouring over neatly written notes.  But learning looks different for different types of kids.

Most students fall into one of three categories:  visual learner, auditory learner, or tactile/kinesthetic learner.  If you know your child’s primary learning style, you can make study time much more effective. Review the characteristics below from the Utah School of Medicine, and see if you can determine your child’s learning style–and your own!

The visual learner…

  • Says “Let me see” rather than “Tell me”
  • Prefers written directions, requests things to be written down (“Make me a list”)
  • Often misunderstands spoken directions
  • Is often quiet
  • Exhibits artistic talent
  • Learns by watching a demonstration (“Show me how to do it” or “I’ll watch you”))
  • Tends to conform to classroom policies (sits quietly, writes neatly, stays organized)

Study tips for the visual learner

The auditory learner…

  • Says “Tell me” rather than “Let me see”
  • Is an excellent listener
  • Needs to listen but not watch (appears not to be paying attention but is listening)
  • Favors music
  • Often hums or talks to himself
  • Tends to listen then take notes
  • Relies on printed notes and handouts
  • Solves problems by talking through them, may say steps aloud while working
  • Must hear instead of read instructions
  • Is good at telling stories and jokes
  • Enjoys participating in discussion

Study tips for the auditory learner

The tactile/kinesthetic learner…

  • Says “Let me try”
  • Wants to be hands on
  • Prefers to learn through trial and error, not instruction
  • Can assemble things without instructions
  • Studies with a pen in hand
  • Tends to be less organized
  • Has difficulty sitting still
  • Responds to music with physical movement
  • Often fiddles with things and doodles
  • Exhibits strong athletic ability

Study tips for the tactile/kinesthetic learner

Still not sure of your child’s primary learning style?  Here are a few more helpful resources

The Barsch Learning Styles Inventory

The Barsch Learning Styles Explanations

Active Study Tips

Quick & Simple Learning Style Quiz



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