Everyone gathers information about the world through three sensory receivers: visual (sight), auditory (sound), and kinesthetic (movement). Some people rely most on visual cues, others prefer auditory input, and still others learn best through movement. Educators refer to these differences as learning styles.
From the very very first 12 months of existence, “Lookers” are drawn to color, form and motion. Their eye-hand coordination is superb and, as toddlers, they take enjoyment in blocks, stringing beads, and carrying out very very simple puzzles.
They revel in colorful toys and piles of picture books. Visual learners enjoy and learn easily from pictures, handouts, videos, and films. In school, they can learn science principles by watching a science experiment rather than having to conduct the experiment themselves.
“Listeners”are attuned to audio and words. They chat early, swiftly integrate new words into their vocabulary, and take pleasure in being read to.
They like to read aloud, recall commercials word for word, and do tongue twisters. In school, they memorize math facts much more easily in a song or poem than from flash cards.
As infants, “Movers” achieve motor milestones, such as crawling and walking, ahead of schedule. They are well coordinated and confident in their bodies. Movers crave to be held and rocked, and seek out physical contact.
Kids who love taking things apart to see how they work are kinesthetic learners. As babies, kinesthetic learners are in constant motion, their movements are well coordinated, and they are anxious to crawl and walk as quickly as possible. In a classroom, kinesthetic learners can be fidgety. They’ll often be the first to volunteer to do something -anything-active. They want to do an experiment not watch it or read about it.
When left entirely to their own devices, over time children tend to settle into a preferred way of learning often to the point of screening out less familiar types of information. When this occurs, by first grade a Looker may have difficulty mastering phonetics, a Listener may be unable to memorize math facts on flash cards, and a Mover may be up and out of his seat during classroom instruction. Extremes of learning style can result in learning disabilities.
This outcome can often be prevented by gently encouraging children as early as possible to welcome all types of input from their environment, and thereby maximizing learning ability.
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