If you’re overlooking your child’s ‘learning style’, you may actually be limiting his or her ability to do well in the exams. Here’s what we mean:You probably have a feeling that your child is unique. This is true of all children. Down to the way in which they learn. When it comes to their education, this means that different stimuli, will get a different response from each of them. Some students do well with highly visual material like charts and diagrams, and others like reading aloud. Still others may need to actually experience a project in order to really understand a concept.

Kinsella (1995) referred to this as “… an individual’s natural, habitual, and preferred ways of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skills.”

Classification of Learning Styles (The VARK Model)

The theory of learning styles also says that each of us can be classified on the basis of our predominant learning preference. Several classifications of learning styles have been presented by psychologists and education researchers, however, one of the most popular is the VARK model presented by Neil Fleming in 1987. His classification of learners and their learning preferences is as follows:

Visual Learners – Learn best when they can take in new information through graphical representations.

  • Like demonstrations
  • Find it easy to learn through models, maps and other graphic visual aids
  • Have vivid imaginations
  • Easily remember faces of people, not names

Auditory Learners – Learn best when they hear information through their ears and speak with their voices.

  • Enjoy discussions and music activities
  • Can remember what they hear through verbal repetition
  • Easily remember verbal instructions without writing them down
  • Find it difficult to learn by watching
  • Find it difficult to work quietly for extended periods of time

Read/write Learners – Learn best when they see information displayed as words.

  • Find it easy to learn through descriptions
  • Often use lists to organize thoughts
  • Can easily process reading and writing in all its forms but especially manuals, reports, essays and assignments.

Kinesthetic Learners — Learn best through demonstration or hands-on experiences.

  • Often do best when they are involved or active
  • Have high levels of energy, therefore learn best while moving
  • Would rather do than watch or listen
  • Find it hard to retain information given during an auditory or visual demonstrated lesson
  • Become physically involved in the subject being studied

What does this mean to you?

As a parent supporting a child through a gruelling exam process, you may not be able to control the style of teaching going on in the classroom. You can ensure that your child is getting the stimulus he or she responds best to at home.

Step one:Pay attention to what your child tells you. Do they tend to repeat what people say to them, or do they describe the scene intensely, or do they move around almost enacting the scene for you? This will help you figure out what kind of learner your child is.

Step two: Work with your child’s tutor to include more of the kind of stimulus your child needs (videos/flash cards etc.)

Step three: Schedule an effective revision timetable that ensures long-term retention