If you have more than one child at home, you are likely more than aware of just how different kids can be. There’s the shy kid, the messy kid, the chatty kid. The kid who’s into sports, the kid who sings, the kid who draws. Each child naturally connects to the people, places, and activities they like best, and these choices present as hobbies, interests, and skills. But being aware of your child’s interests can do more than simply prepare you for which curriculum and learning resources to choose, or which summer camps to sign up for. When it comes to learning, you can channel your child’s interests for the good of their education too!
The first step is to figure out your child’s natural learning style. Knowing your child’s learning style will help you to plan activities in a way that is sure to have a meaningful, lasting effect. The idea of learning styles has been studied since the 1980s; the current VARK model stands for four types of learner: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic (VARK). In more recent years a few other learning styles have been identified including the Socio-Emotional learner. The VARK model is often used to improve lesson delivery and choose how best to teach and guide a child, as a parent, you can use them to help your child learn new things. Knowing your learning style is simply a guide to making smart choices about how your child will learn best. What methods, curriculums, and yes fun will be the best format for your child to learn! (Protip: There are actually a few more learning styles but for the sake of simplicity we will use these!) You can even plan family trips and adventures around these learning styles! Read on for tips and tricks for working with your child’s style.
The R in VARK stands for reading/writing. This means your child learns best through text. You’ll find your kid picks up information much faster through reading and writing than by listening or doing. Whether or not your child is a strong reader, it is likely they are drawn to books.
You may have a child who is a big reader. Or maybe yours is constantly creating lists. Or your child may have shelves of notebooks filled with their thoughts in journals. These behaviors are common to reading/writing learners. Since most traditional classrooms favor this learning style, it is possible your child is a ‘natural’ at school. However, not all reading/writing learners are natural readers; it’s simply that they learn best through the act of reading and writing. No matter what the subject, you’ll find your kid trying to make sense of their learning through text.
Instead of watching YouTube tutorials, your kid may prefer scrolling through the 3,000 word blog posts. Instead of movie night, your child would love a family book club. Instead of glancing over difficult vocabulary, your child may head right for the dictionary. Recipes, instructional booklets, nonfiction articles – if your child is interested, they’re likely reading everything.
So what can you do? To start, let your child guide the way! There’s no need to fight your child’s natural interests; use them as sources of inspiration! Look for projects and activities that play to your child’s strengths. While reading/writing learners can certainly learn by seeing, hearing, and doing, they will be most successful in situations that engage their high-powered reading and writing skills! Try some of the suggestions below when introducing new concepts or practicing old ones so that it better suits your child’s way of learning.
To keep a reading/writing learner engaged, make sure to have plenty of books on hand! Both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, scripts and short stories – your child is going to soak up knowledge from every page. Try keeping a notebook on hand; this allows you to turn any moment into a fun exploration for your reader/writer! Using such tools will be key for keeping your kid motivated to learn. You’ll be amazed at the difference in engagement when using tools that fit your child.
Supporting reading/writing learners in:
English Language Arts: Be sure to explore a wide variety of written work. You can even have your child explore whether they prefer physical books or e-readers. Encourage your kid to scrawl all over their books with notes and annotations. (Just be sure they are NOT library books!) Keep them engaged with projects like book reviews, journaling, and creative writing. Try writing alternative endings to favorite stories. Find a writing competition or decide to write a novel such as One Year Adventure Novel.
STEM: Locate engaging books on STEM topics to supplement any math or science lesson. Provide plenty of text-based instruction or content for further study. In love with the ocean? Go to the library and find tons of books on marine life. A child who loves to read has no limit to their ability to acquire information, they just need the “next” book to read.
Social Studies: Explore books on various cultures, historical time periods, or current events to nurture your child’s reading instincts. Mirroring writing through the ages is also a great way for your child to engage with history. Study the “language” of the ages. Consider reading about current events in online newspapers or writing letters to the editor to get your child engaged in discourse. Check out the “Who Was” series of books.
Social Activities: Reading/writing learners will gravitate to text-based activities such as book clubs, playwriting, and diary keeping. Encourage your child to journal about their lived experience!
While your child may naturally respond best to this learning style, it certainly does not mean other styles won’t be beneficial. Your kid may have a preference for one style over another, but children are incredibly adaptable. Aim to strike a good balance between supporting this learning style, but not limiting your child to it. Learning often happens through a combination of styles and other external factors can weigh into your choices. The value of an outing with Grandma or your child’s best friend’s preference may contribute to their willingness and ability to absorb material as well. We all know our kids are complex and follow their passions! That is the beauty of individualized learning and finding the right teaching methodology for your child or student. Be their guide, and let them find their way. No matter what, listen to what your children or students feedback to you. When you find the “right way” to learn, they will certainly let you know. Having an open discussion about learning styles with children old enough to understand will also help them to guide you. Let them have a voice.
Don’t forget to use this knowledge to guide you in picking the correct curriculum.
*These articles are meant as a guide and for information only, and are not professional evaluations. For further analysis of your child or student’s learning style consider an evaluation by a professional with for further testing. Anything Academic can help you find both professionals and guides to testing for academics!