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Build classroom confidence by understanding learning modalities

Kid

Parent

Teen

Neurodivergence

July 27, 2023

One of the best ways to empower your child in the classroom is to better understand how they prefer to learn. Gaining insight into your child or teen’s preferences can also better equip you to advocate for their individual needs as they head back to school. 

We’re all about having fun too — knowing your child's preferred learning modalities can even help you to determine which types of extracurricular activities they’ll most likely enjoy. 

Ready to find out more about what will help keep your child engaged in the classroom and during homework time? Read on for helpful tips and tools that you can use to make this their best school year yet! 

The three types of learning modalities 

Many educators believe that there are three main types of learning modalities — visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Children typically have a balance of all three, but some may absorb information better by watching, listening, or being more hands-on. 

Here is a breakdown of the three main types of learning modalities or preferences:

  • Seeing (visual) learners— Prefer learning best by seeing and observing things like pictures and diagrams. They are typically observant of the world around them and may be drawn to art. They tend to enjoy screen time and retain information most easily from videos, diagrams, and pictures.
  • Hearing (auditory) learners— Prefer learning by listening to a lesson rather than reading written notes. They are typically drawn to sound and may enjoy playing instruments or singing. They are often good listeners and follow oral directions well. 
  • Feeling (kinesthetic) learners — Enjoy learning through experiencing and doing things themselves. These learners typically prefer learning new information  by doing something physical. They may show strength in sports and may have a strong sense of balance. 

Discovering learning style preferences

Ready to learn more about your child’s preference for learning? Try asking them these questions, in your own words, to get to know what will best motivate them and help them to excel in the classroom and beyond.

Remember that your child or teen may identify with more than one of these learning modalities, and these are not the only ways people learn. Current research suggests that It is more beneficial to use a variety of teaching methods and strategies to accommodate different learning modalities, and that there is not one true learning style for each child. 

You can simply use these questions and suggestions to start the conversation and brainstorm ways to tap into your child’s strengths to improve their learning engagement and classroom confidence. 

Seeing (visual) preference

If you answer “yes” to these questions, you may  prefer learning by seeing.

1. Do you tend to remember things in pictures?

2. Do you find it easy to learn things from demonstrations?

3. Do you have a good imagination?

4. Do you like writing or drawing things to learn/remember?

5. Do you prefer reading/seeing information (more than hearing it)?

Hearing (auditory) preference

If you answer “yes” to these questions, you may prefer learning by hearing.

1. Do you understand things when your teacher explains them out loud?

a. Do you understand even without pictures or visual representations?

2. Are you a strong speller after hearing words?

3. Do you have a good sense of timing (how long things will take)?

4. Do you prefer to hear information read out loud?

Feeling (kinesthetic) preference

If you answer “yes” to these questions, you may prefer learning by feeling.

1. Do you prefer learning from being able to touch/feel things?

2. Do you prefer learning  when you can move around?

3. Do you tend to notice lights, noises, and other sensory things?

4. Do you tend to lose track of time?

Study tools based on your child’s learning preference 

For each learning modality, there are effective strategies you can use to help your child be more eager to study and do so more efficiently and effectively. Try a few of these methods based on your child’s preferred learning modality, and see how they respond. 

Seeing (visual) 

  • Draw pictures and diagrams as they study
  • Ask to have instructions written down
  • Visualize the information as the teacher is explaining it, using the imagination to create pictures out of words 
  • Look up videos to see a visual demonstration of what they’re studying 
  • Make concept maps while studying new material 
  • Color code class notes 

Hearing (auditory) 

  • Read class notes out loud
  • Listen to an audiobook 
  • Ask the teacher to give assignment instructions out loud 
  • Consider using songs to remember information
  • Study in a small group where they can discuss with others and ask questions 
  • Talk through new material that they are learning in school 
  • Use “text to speech” functions on online materials to hear content read aloud
  • Ask the teacher if they can record a lesson so they can listen to it again when it’s time to study 

Feeling (kinesthetic) 

  • Look for opportunities to learn through a hands-on activity — like doing a science experiment
  • Review class notes while walking around
  • Take frequent breaks to release energy
  • Ask the teacher for permission to get up and move 
  • Act out study materials as a skit 
  • Use props to solve problems 
  • Draw or doodle while learning 
  • Ask permission to touch or feel materials when appropriate

This school year, one way to help your child worry less about assignments and exams is to encourage them to notice how they prefer to learn. Remember, there is no one right way to study or one true learning style— experiment to see what works best for your child, providing plenty of encouragement along the way! 

And if your family could use a little extra support, Bend is here! Enroll in our Back to School program, a two-month coaching experience that combines live 1:1 coaching sessions and engaging learning curriculum to help families, kids, and teens develop skills for focus and organization for the year ahead.

Need help navigating ADHD or anxiety?

Learn to Bend.