Learning Styles for Children with Learning Disabilities
Not everybody learns in the same way – we all have our natural preferences as to how we acquire and store the information that we learn. Traditionally, there was only really one learning style employed in mainstream education. Reciting information, such as times tables or a new language in parrot fashion, or listening and writing down information were most common.
But in recent years there have been moves to adopt many different types of learning styles, to help reach out to children that have different learning style preferences. The wider the learning style approach, the more children can benefit from learning in a way that maximises their potential. This is especially relevant for children with learning difficulties, who historically have struggled to cope and learn with from traditional learning methods.
The left side of the brain processes information in a very different way to the right. You may find that you grasp, process and recall particular pieces of information a lot easier when they are presented to you in a certain way. This is because the left hand side of your brain tends to be much more creative and holistic, whereas the right side taps into logic and sequence. Many people find that they are able to learn faster and more efficiently with either a left or right-sided brain approach. There are also people that are more ‘rounded’ and find all methods of learning beneficial.
What Are the Different Learning Styles?There are four basic styles of learning:
TactileTactile learners benefit greatly from using the sense of touch when learning. This can involve working with and manipulating materials, working with shapes or other objects that transform a written or spoken piece of information into something much more ‘real’ and three dimensional.
Aesthetic (Visual)People that are Aesthetic or Visual Learners benefit most from seeing what they are learning, as they have strong visual processing skills. For Aesthetic Learners, graphs, pictorial representations, diagrams and charts are all handy learning tools, as they are able to visually recall them to sort, process and recall the information they need. Visual learners are often creative and like to learn in a range of visual media.
AudioThose with strong auditory skills are called Auditory Learners. They find information much easier to retain and process when it is spoken. They may write down information as it is spoken. A person with strong Auditory skills will often have an excellent memory for finer points and details that have been spoken, and learn quickly from engaging in conversation and practical oral education with others. For this reason they may excel in learning new languages, debating and any other oral communication that requires articulacy. An auditory learner may also be musical in nature.
Kinaesthetic (Practical)A Kinaesthetic Learner will learn much better when involving body movement or practical exercises, often imitating things to learn for themselves. They love using their hands, and any education that involves hands-on work, such as craft or learning a new trade skill. Many kinaesthetic learners can memorise body movements and are usually quite co-ordinated, and as such may excel in activities such as athletics, dance or drama.
Learning Styles For Children With Learning Difficulties And DisabilitiesGenerally children with learning disabilities or difficulties are assessed by their school. This will help to identify their strengths and weaknesses, so that teachers can form lesson plans and approaches to different subjects or skills.
In some cases, a learning difficulty is in part defined by the learning style that the child benefits most from. People with learning disabilities may have impaired verbal, sensory or auditory skills, and their ability to communicate and learn in a particular way is limited. Therefore they can only adopt and benefit from certain styles of learning.
For instance, someone with dyslexia may struggle with left-brained styles of learning; logic, sequence, analysis and rationalisation. Therefore an approach that utilises learning styles that engage the right side of the brain – intuitive, holistic and synthesising techniques – will prove far more successful. Another example may be that a child with learning difficulties and hyperactivity may benefit from kinaesthetic learning. People that are able to improve their learning through this learning style are often twitchy or slightly restless, and so moving and being involved in the learning in a practical way engages them much more than if they were made to sit and listen.
Finding the right learning style will help a child to gain confidence in their ability to learn. Once they find appropriate ways to understand and process information, they can often forge their own independent learning techniques. This in turn aids their progress throughout mainstream education, encouraging self-advocacy, inclusion and helping them to realise their full potential.