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How to Determine Your Child's Learning Style

Angela was a foster parent for eight years and has four daughters, one in which is adopted.

Read on to learn how to determine your child's learning style. This will help you understand their needs and teach them better.

Read on to learn how to determine your child's learning style. This will help you understand their needs and teach them better.

Understanding the Different Learning Styles of Children

Everyone learns differently. Some people learn better by hearing things, others learn by seeing, and some learn best by diving in and just doing it. For instance, imagine learning how to knit. One person can learn by reading a book. Someone else has to watch someone knit before truly understanding how to do it. Another person learns by grabbing a needle and yarn and working it out themselves.

Understanding how someone learns helps immensely in knowing how to teach them. It is also important to note that there is a primary learning style and a secondary learning style. There are four primary learning styles and three secondary styles:

Primary Learning Styles

  1. Aural
  2. Visual and Spatial
  3. Physical
  4. Verbal

Secondary Learning Styles

  1. Logical-Mathematical
  2. Social (Interpersonal)
  3. Intrapersonal

1. Primary: Aural

Different learning styles focus on different parts of the brain. Aural learners use the temporal lobe, specifically on the right hemisphere.

Clues One Is an Aural Learner:

  • Often notice background music in movies.
  • Hum or sing without realizing it.

What Can Help This Kind of Learner:

  • Put information to music or a beat.
  • Play soft music in the background while studying, preferably without words.
  • Use rhymes to help them remember critical information.

What Are They Good At:

  • They enjoy working with music and sound.
  • Generally can sing well, play a musical instrument, and determine the differences in instruments by just listening.
  • Typically have a natural rhythm and a good sense of pitch.
  • Music provokes strong emotion in an aural learner.

Potential Careers:

  • Music teacher
  • Composer or conductor
  • Sound Engineer

Uses Phrases Like:

  • That sounds right to me.
  • Please tune in to what I'm saying
  • I heard him loud and clear
  • Yeah, it rings a bell.
  • Ahhh, music to my ears.

2. Primary: Visual and Spatial

These learners use the occipital and parietal lobes.

Clues One Is This Kind of Learner:

  • Often doodles.
  • Uses arrows, pictures, and doodles when note-taking.
  • Rarely gets lost.

What Can Help This Kind of Learner:

  • Pictures, images, colors, maps, graphs, diagrams
  • Organize information on a map or grid to see relationships between items. A multiplication chart is excellent for visual/spatial learners.
  • Whiteboards are a must for these learners so that they can draw out or map out their ideas.
  • Using different colored pens/markers/pencils when taking notes.

What They Are Good At:

  • Envisioning an outcome of a project.
  • Has a generally good sense of direction and does not get lost. When they leave a building, they often know which way to turn.
  • Drawing/scribbling/doodling.

Potential Careers:

  • Architect
  • Photographer
  • Video or film industry
  • Designer
  • Strategic designer
  • Navigational science

Uses Phrases Like:

  • If you look at it this way.
  • See what I mean?
  • I can't picture it.
  • I want to get a different perspective.

3. Primary: Physical

A physical learner uses the cerebellum and the motor cortex, which are mainly responsible for kinesthetic or physical movement.

Clues One Is a Physical Learner:

  • More sensitive to textures of clothes.
  • Enjoys getting hands dirty.
  • Uses hands to gesticulate what they are saying.
  • When learning a new skill, they will jump in and start discovering rather than listening and observing first.
  • Has trouble sitting still through a lecture.

What Can Help This Kind of Learner:

  • Flashcards are a great tool because they can touch and observe them.
  • Use objects as much as possible.
  • Make visual aids, which is an active part of learning, which speaks to their kinesthetic tendencies.
  • Do a role-play during learning when possible.

What Are They Good At:

  • They tend to be more athletic or artistic.
  • They can figure things out by just doing.
  • They are good at jobs that involve labor and do not enjoy desk jobs AT ALL!

Potential Careers:

  • Acting
  • Dancing
  • Athletics
  • Mechanical
  • Construction work
  • General Labor

Uses Phrases Like:

  • I can't get a grip on this.
  • Stay in touch with me.
  • That feels about right.
  • That doesn't sit well with me.

4. Primary: Verbal

These learners use the temporal and frontal lobes, specifically the Brocai and Wernickei areas located in the left hemisphere. These areas deal with linguistics.

Clues One Is a Verbal Learner:

  • Feels it is easy to express oneself both in speech and writing.
  • Loves to read and write.
  • Enjoys tongue twisters, limericks, rhymes, or jokes that play on words.

What Can Help This Kind of Learner:

  • Uses recordings of themselves to help learn new material.
  • Talks their way through do it yourself projects.
  • Uses rhyme and rhythm to help learn.
  • Puts facts to songs.
  • Read new information out loud.
  • Uses mnemonic devices.
  • Is expressive when memorizing facts.

What Are They Good At:

  • Has a large vocabulary.
  • Debating with others
  • Public speaking

Potential Careers:

  • Politics
  • Writer
  • Journalist
  • Sales
  • Radio DJ

Uses Phrases Like:

  • Repeat that to me, word-for-word.
  • I hear you, but I don't know if I agree.
  • Let me spell it out for you.

1. Secondary: Logical-Mathematical

Logical-mathematical learning uses the brain's parietal lobe, primarily on the left side, because that is what is in control of logical thinking.

Clues One Is a Logical-Mathematical Learner:

  • Enjoys brain teasers or PC games.
  • Tends to make goals for yourself and track using charts or graphs.
  • Often makes to-do lists.
  • Becomes unpopular because they point out problems in someone else's logic.

What Can Help This Kind of Learner:

  • Helps classify stuff into categories to help them make associations.
  • Learns the details and reasons behind stuff, the more they know about a topic, the more it makes sense to the logical-mathematical learner.
  • Uses diagrams to help show how all things work together.

What Are They Good At:

  • Recognizes patterns easily.
  • Sees connections between objects that others often miss.
  • Can perform complex calculations.
  • Can calculate in your head easily.
  • Algebra and trigonometry come easily to you.

Potential Careers:

  • Biologist
  • Mathematician
  • Accountant
  • Detective
  • Lawyer
  • Computer Programmer

Uses Phrases Like:

  • That's not logical.
  • There's no rhyme or reason for this.
  • This is pattern behavior.

2. Secondary: Social (Interpersonal)

A social learner uses the frontal and temporal lobes, as well as the hippocampus, which handles your emotions, moods, and aggression.

Clues One Is a Social Learner:

  • Prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Finds yourself sticking around after class or work to talk with others.
  • Prefers to work through issues, ideas, and problems with a group.
  • People often come to you for advice.

What Can Help This Kind of Learner:

  • Make learning an interactive process where there is a lot of talking and bouncing ideas off of one another.
  • Form study groups to study.
  • Role-playing activities are beneficial for this type of learner.

What Are They Good At:

  • Communicates well with others.
  • Understands others' feelings.
  • Can view things from a different perspective than your own.
  • In tune with how others are feeling.

Potential Careers:

  • Counselor
  • Teacher
  • Coach or trainer
  • Sales
  • Politics
  • Human resources

Uses Phrases Like:

  • We can figure this out.
  • What are you thinking?
  • Help me understand what you're saying.
  • Let's explore our options.

3. Secondary: Intrapersonal

The frontal and parietal lobes, as well as the limbic system, are active with this style.

Clues One Is an Intrapersonal Learner:

  • Prefers to work alone.
  • Likes to spend time alone as opposed to with a group.
  • Is introverted and enjoys self-analysis, analyzing how you feel, how you reacted, etc.
  • Keeps a journal or diary.
  • Often reads self-help books.

What Can Help This Kind of Learner:

  • Give space and quiet time to study.
  • You may waste time trying to solve a problem, by yourself, when it would be quicker to have help.

What Are They Good At:

  • Are very self-aware.
  • They are very independent and self-reliant.
  • They make plans, set goals, and follow through.

Potential Careers:

  • Authors
  • Researchers
  • Park Rangers
  • Security guards

Uses Phrases Like:

  • Let me think about it.
  • I think you should...
  • I'll get back to you.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Angela Michelle Schultz


Susan Ream from Michigan on April 06, 2014:

angela, this is an extremely resourceful hub. My daughter was a very hands on. I learned how to teach her by drawing out maps and creating card games etc. It worked with her and it stuck.

You've done a great job and I am sure this hub will help many parents in teaching their own unique child according to their bent.



Ben Taylor from Sedro-Woolley, Washington on January 18, 2014:

I am multimode when it comes to learning.

Kathy Henderson from Pa on January 16, 2014:

Love it ~ I have some moms that are desperate for this type of info ~ sharing with them your hub ~ thanks

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 14, 2014:

great hub. I am the Intrapersonal Learning Style. However, I couldn't find any of the above style that fit my boy. Too bad.

NiaLee from BIG APPLE on January 12, 2014:

Thank you for that great article, it makes me think about my future plans for my kids and my own self. We need to determine what are our style and go for the most efficient and comfortable way. In a society where comparison, competition and test results are obsessing everybody to the point of forgetting the essence of humans, of live, that is organic and unique for each and every of us... variation and flexibility are very welcome, so, we can adapt the learning style to the human and not try to force the human in a box.

Thank you.

Love and peace to you and all.

xbreban on January 12, 2014:

Wow, cool topic! Definitely will follow! There are a lot of different people in the world, I am glad you wrote about this, there needs to be more truth :)

Dianna Mendez on January 11, 2014:

This is a well done article on the topic of learning styles. This is so useful for parents and teachers in knowing how to help children learn best. Voted up++

Richard Parr from Australia on January 11, 2014:

Thanks Angela, interesting subject. Having four children which we've homeschooled, it's always challenging to adapt education to a students learning style; especially when you might have a different learning style yourself. Voted up.

Martin VK from Copenhagen, Denmark on January 11, 2014:

Interesting hub I must say!