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Learning Styles are powerful things!
Learning Styles are powerful things!

At school I remember I spent a lot of time reading and writing stuff down in an exercise book.

This was the way our teachers expected us to learn most of the time, and it still is today.

This is a serious problem for many children

Some students learn best by creating a picture in their mind and committing that to memory. Others are incredibly good at storing information by what they hear.

Some like to feel what they are learning, by physically doing something or mentally placing themselves in a situation. As always – we’re all different!

And yet for the most part, traditional teaching methods expect every child to learn by only listening, reading, or writing stuff down.

I’m not saying that the school learning system is complete rubbish – not at all. I’m just concerned about those students who don’t learn effectively by simply listening and writing.

If you’re not sure about the type of students I mean, maybe this example will help

A friend of mine at high school did incredibly badly in his exams. But he wasn’t dumb! In the weekends he would quite happily tinker with motorcycle engines. The problem? He learned best by doing things. By touch, by feeling. Not by sitting at a desk while a ‘should-have-retired-8-years-ago’ teacher prattled on about a subject that could have been interesting taught in the right way.

The good news is your child can quite easily discover what their predominant learning style is.

And then they can use it to their advantage!

Generally speaking students naturally gravitate to one of the following learning styles: visual, auditory, read & write, and kinesthetic.

Understanding what their predominant learning style will allow your child to exploit their own ‘mind powers’.

Why it can be so helpful to figure out what your predominant learning style is?

At university I really struggled with a certain anatomy paper where we had to learn the different regions of the brain. Even though I was no dummy, nothing about this paper stuck with me easily.

I actually failed the mid-semester test.

This was particularly stressful because a few of my friends found it really straight forward!

It didn’t matter that I colour-coded all the different regions – I couldn’t remember the anatomical names of anything! I went over the colourful diagrams again and again, but the information just wouldn’t go in.

Now I understand why this was the case. I’m not much of a visual learner. Color coding and diagrams are fantastic tools for visual learners to use, but not for me.

It turns out that I learn well by reading and writing, but I’m also a bit of a kinaesthetic learner.

This means I like to learn by doing and by feeling, just like my mechanically-minded friend.

Since finding out that I’m also a kinaesthetic learner, I’ve successfully applied kinaesthetic learning techniques to get the marks in exams I wanted.

In a later stage anatomy paper I had to learn the various parts of the brain in quite a lot of detail.

I decided to imagine what it would actually feel like to be inside a brain. I imagined walking up the spinal cord and into the brain stem. Then I turned around and climbed into the cerebellum, before moving up into the cortex! In each different region I went to, I recalled what part of my body it controlled.

This was several years ago now, and ever since I’ve been able to recall each region of the brain and what it does just by going for a walk in my mind.

The big study picture

The key to maximising your predominant learning style is to appreciate that it is just that, your predominant one.

Don’t let your child discount the others.

They might find they like utilising all four styles, or various combinations of them.

Becoming a smart studier means understanding what study techniques allow you to absorb and retain information most effectively, and understanding what learning styles you like using is one part of this.

It will probably take a bit of time for your child to figure this stuff out, but the sooner they start the sooner they can start nailing their exams.

How can your child figure out what their predominant learning style is?

We’ve developed a short quiz that will tell your child what their predominant learning style is. They can take the quiz here.

We also have a range of study tips depending on which learning style your teen subscribes to.

Image Credit: Salvatore Vuono

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