Engage learning styles to optimize children's learning

There are 3 main learning styles that can greatly affect how well your child understands the things they are learning in school

Christina Rittenbach
Christina Rittenbach, extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences division of the North Dakota State University Extension Service in Stutsman County.

As we are in the last few months of the school year, school-aged children may be starting to get spring fever. Schoolwork may start to get tiresome, and getting them to complete their homework may be taking a bit more encouragement than it did at the beginning of the school year. Knowing children’s learning styles can help parents more effectively help their children during these last weeks of school.

There are three main learning styles that can greatly affect how well your child understands the things they are learning in school, how well they are able to complete their homework, and how well they are able to pay attention to their lessons.

Visual Learners: As the title suggests, visual learners learn best by seeing and observing. If you have a visual learner, he or she may love to color and draw, play with puzzles, mazes and word find games, and be good at reading maps, charts and diagrams. Visual learners also pay attention to details, use images to help them remember things, have good hand/eye coordination, and may have a vivid imagination. They may also have a hard time with verbal directions.

If your child is a visual learner and seems to be struggling with a particular assignment or school project, there are several things you can try to aid the learning process. Using flashcards or drawing pictures for the visual learner can be very beneficial. Use a highlighter to highlight key words or pictures to make them “pop” out. Make charts or diagrams to organize information. Use to-do lists or planners to help keep things organized and give your child a visual reminder.

Auditory Learners: Auditory learners learn better from hearing things. You may have an auditory learner if your child loves to tell stories and jokes, play word games or sing songs. Auditory learners typically remember words quickly, talk to themselves, ask a lot of questions, and be very social/talkative with others. If it is too quiet, they may want to make some noise, but can get distracted by too many sounds at one time.


You can help auditory learners learn by reading out loud with them or encouraging them to read out loud to themselves so they can hear it. It may be beneficial for auditory learners to study with a partner so they can talk about the material and work out solutions to problems. You could also help auditory learners by assisting them in writing out problems in the right order and having them read the steps out loud. Also, have them verbalize what they intend to do after they read the directions to a problem or assignment.

Physical Learners: Physical learners enjoy hands-on experiences. They may enjoy handling and manipulating things in order to understand them. They may seem to be constantly moving and have a short attention span. Physical learners prefer to be shown things, rather than just told something. Most young children are physical learners and may grow into an auditory or visual learner later on.

Physical learners can be assisted by making models and being encouraged to draw diagrams or take notes. Any kind of hands-on learning, such as field trips or experiments will benefit the physical learner.

For more information on this topic, please contact Christina Rittenbach, Stutsman County Extension agent, at 252-9030 or

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