You might have heard that different people have different learning styles, but chances are you aren't entirely sure what that means for your child. George Kainyek, an online tutor, explains that it’s important that you tailor the work to your child’s learning style.
Whilst there isn’t any evidence to suggest a specific style of learning can make it more effective, it’s safe to say that some children prefer certain learning styles to others. If you’re struggling to get your child to sit down and learn, then switching styles may help.
There are four main learning styles:
We'll take a look at each in turn, but the key takeaway is that once you identify your child's learning style, you need to make sure they're able to learn in the best way for them.
Visual learners, as the name suggests, prefer to use visual cues to help them memorise and recall information. They tend to be more interested in observing the world around them and are particularly good at memorising people and places. They may also be better at visual subjects like art.
If your child is a visual learner, then they'll benefit from using colour when making revision notes, and creating mind maps and diagrams to organise information.
Auditory learners are the opposite of visual learners, in that they like following verbal instructions, often speak their thoughts out loud, and generally learn through listening. They're good at holding a conversation and will often listen carefully to instructions before a task. They also tend to be good at playing musical instruments.
For auditory learners, it can be useful to record themselves reading their notes aloud and then listening back. They may also benefit from talking through any topics they're struggling with.
Reading/writing learners have some similarities with visual learners. The difference is that rather than diagrams, readers/writers learn better by writing notes out, and remember information by reading it to themselves.
Reading/writing learners will learn best by writing out their notes, usually in the form of checklists or headings and paragraphs. They also prefer to learn in silence.
Kinesthetic learners are quite different from the others. They prefer to learn by doing, especially if they can get hands-on. They enjoy active tasks like drawing or study games and are often adept at sports and other physical activities. They learn best by jumping in at the deep end and learning as they go along.
Kinesthetic learners can be helped by turning revision into fun activities and games, channelling their excess energy into something constructive. They also thrive on being tested regularly.
A good way to prepare your child for the future is to consolidate and revise what they've already learnt previously. This will help to fill in the gaps left by the disruption and give your child the platform they need to carry on with the rest of the syllabus.
It’s also an important step when it comes to overcoming what education experts call the “summer slide”. This is where children forget some of what they learnt in the previous school year.
Learning new things and revising old topics are two different tasks, and so it's important not to mix them. This is why having a schedule is so important. You can set time slots for learning, and other slots for revision.
The style of revision will vary based on your child's learning style, so make sure they have everything they need to revise effectively.
If you have an online tutor, then ask them to provide homework that utilises parts of the curriculum they've already learnt.
You can also set regular tests and past papers to see their progress. Just be sure not to overdo it with testing.
Sophie Greensmith, one of our online tutors, suggests incentivising any work or revision. For example, 2 hours of work allows your child to watch 2 episodes of their favourite TV show.
A lot of children may start to feel isolated, as the months drag on and they haven't been able to see their friends. This can have a toll on their mental health (as you'll see in the "Mental Health" section) but also impacts their learning.
It could be incredibly jarring for your child if they go back to school in September and suddenly have to learn in a classroom environment again.
Clearly, with current restrictions, it may be hard to organise a classroom set up at your home. However, video calling technology offers a great alternative.
Jenna Dowd, an Elementary Instructional Coach at Simply Working Mama, explains that social learning via online video calling can help build your child’s interpersonal skills, promote collaboration and make their learning more engaging and effective.
You could reach out to other parents of children that are friends with you. Organise a time where your children can sit down on a video call and learn together. Perhaps one of the parents can "lead" the session and take on the role of teacher. They would make sure discussions were focused on learning and not the latest TikTok videos!
Learning shouldn't just be confined to textbooks and past papers. There are plenty of other opportunities for more non-academic learning.
Lots of museums and art galleries, for example, are offering virtual experiences. Your child can engage with the exhibits from the comfort of their own home.
You can also encourage them to read books or watch documentaries that aren't necessarily related to the syllabus. Janet Heller, an ex-teacher and author, explains that urging young people to pursue information about areas that interest them helps to expand their knowledge and cultivates a love of learning they'll take through the rest of their lives.
Even something as simple as a walk through your local park may help your child to reflect on their learning.
Recommended Resources and Further Reading