Human beings view the world in unique ways. Different students lean towards different learning styles, similar to how an educator might have a preferred teaching method. Educational theorist Neil Fleming developed the VARK model in 1987 to help make sense of how different individuals absorb and retain information. The acronym VARK stands for Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinaesthetic, and refers to the four most widely accepted learning styles.
To this day, VARK remains a classic framework for understanding how a student might prefer to learn. A child’s preferred learning style often depends on a variety of cognitive, emotional and experiential factors. However, not all children will fit neatly into one category or another. In fact, some might show a preference for multiple learning styles. Nonetheless, they remain a helpful resource for educators to tap on in the classroom. If you’re a parent, these ideas can help you create a better learning environment for your little one.
Visual learners learn best through sight. This means that the child understands information better when presented in the form of images like photographs, mindmaps and diagrams. These learners may also find it helpful to learn through visual pointers, for example to colour coded content or simple infographics. Presentation slides and videos can also aid their understanding. In the classroom, for instance, students can doodle examples of new concepts on the whiteboard to make sense of them in their own way. At home, you can consider ideas like drawing or doing finger painting activities with your child.
Auditory or aural learners are quick to pick up information through sound. He or she may prefer learning situations such as discussing an idea in a group with peers instead of reading. Aural learners often find the use of memory devices (for example, rhyming) a helpful study technique and find it beneficial to read aloud to retain information better. You can also consider taking turns reading aloud with your child. Have the young learner verbally rephrase concepts into his or her own words to aid understanding as learning through listening and speaking come naturally to such learners. Aural learners may also enjoy learning resources such as children’s audiobooks.
Learners who prefer to read and write are usually most comfortable learning through some form of text. This may look like reading and reviewing notes, translating diagrams into concise statements, a preference for long-form writing, among other textual interactions. At home, you can consider setting aside some time each morning or evening for daily journaling or quiet reading. In the classroom, educators can leverage the child’s natural affinity for textual expression by setting creative writing activities or using flashcards to teach new words. There might be overlaps between reading/writing learners and visual learners, but the former are generally drawn to textual expression.
Kinaesthetic learners enjoy learning through experience. These children are hands-on learners who appreciate using their sense of touch to process information. A kinaesthetic learner may find it easiest to comprehend scientific ideas by conducting a simple science experiment. For example, a child can learn about the different stages of matter by holding an ice cube in his or her hand. Your child may also enjoy the use of skits or role play in understanding concepts. Incorporating movement into the lesson through dance or games is one way to engage these learners. How about inviting him or her to act out scenes from a text to truly get into a character’s shoes? This is also a good way to get the child’s creative juices flowing.
Learning is Personal
Central to the VARK model is the idea that learning is personal. We all have our preferred methods of comprehending, processing and retaining information. MindChamps considers the benefits of individualised learning styles as reflected in our Art of Learning Enrichment curricula for both lower primary students and the upper primary cohort. MindChamps Enrichment Academy also provides courses like the MindChamps Reading and MindChamps Writing programmes. Respectively, these two specially designed curricula aim to nurture young children into skilled and confident readers and expressive and creative writers. If your child tends towards auditory or kinaesthetic learning.
By having an understanding of different learning styles, you will be better equipped to cater to the specific learning strengths of your child and select the most suitable enrichment courses and learning strategies tailored to him or her.