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A Brief Introduction to Learning Styles

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Photo Credit: Lees Street

What kind of learner are you? How do the children in your group prefer to learn? How do you incorporate different learning styles into your teaching? Simply put learning styles describe an individual’s preferred way of acquiring and processing information. The idea is that each person differs in the way they prefer to learn and everyone can enjoy learning if the material is presented in a way that compliments their learning style.

If you Google Learning Styles you will be presented with a bewildering array of models to choose from, some of which can be quite complex. I have found that it can become overwhelming to try and incorporate them all into your sessions. Nevertheless it is important for the children to enjoy and retain what they are learning and they are more likely to do so when they are learning in their preferred style.  One of the simplest models is the basic VAK model, which presents 3 learning styles.

  1. Visual– people who prefer to learn by seeing and reading
  2. Auditory – those who prefer to learn by speaking and listening
  3. Kinesthetic– individuals who prefer to learn by touching and doing

So, for example, I find it very difficult to learn from sermons, because I am a very strong kinesthetic and visual learner. It is hard for me to absorb information while sitting still and listening. I learn best when I engage in some kind of active learning experience. I can also learn effectively when the information is presented visually, or I can read about it, but doing something is the best way for me to learn. If really must sit still I need to be doodling or I will fidget!

Visual Learners will enjoy
  • Pictures
  • Maps
  • Videos
  • Powerpoints
  • Watching skits
  • Drawing/ colouring
  • Imagining
  • Reading
  • Mind maps
Auditory Learners will enjoy
  • Discussing
  • Listening
  • Music/ songs
  • Film
  • Instructions
  • Repetition
  • Questions/ answers
  • Stories
Kinesthetic Learners will enjoy
  • Props they can handle
  • Crafts/ making
  • Drama
  • Drawing
  • Games
  • Tactile experiences
  • Hands on learning
  • Experiments
  • Lots of movement

So, for example, when it comes to prayer

  1. Visual learners prefer to write or draw their prayers; they will enjoy adding to a graffiti prayer wall
  2. Auditory Learners prefer to use their voices, so they will enjoy reading written prayers, listening to others pray aloud, or singing their prayers
  3. Kinesthetic learners need movement, so they like to dance their prayers, or create actions to accompany the words. They will also enjoy walking a labyrinth.

When telling a story

  1. Visual learners remember best when the story is told with visual aids or they can watch a video version.
  2. Auditory learners like to sit quietly and listen to the story being told
  3. Kinesthetic learners need interactive storytelling. Perhaps they will make actions or noises when they hear particular words, use toy figures to depict the story, or act it out.

Remember most children don’t show a complete preference for one learning style over the others. Many draw on two of the three different styles. In our teaching it’s important to try and include something, somewhere, in each lesson that will appeal to each of the 3 styles so everyone gets a chance at engagement. It’s important for kids to have fun when they’re learning. If they are having fun they will not be bored and discipline issues will diminish. They will also be learning and that is a very good thing indeed.

How do you incorporate different learning styles into your sessions? What are the challenges you face?

 

Sharon Harding

About Sharon Harding

I was born in England and immigrated to Canada almost 30 years ago. A graduate of Gloucestershire University (B.Ed.), I have been involved in children’s ministry since I was 16. Over the past 12 years I have written for a variety of Christian Education curriculum resources. I also write a blog at rediscoveredfamilies.com encouraging parents to build strong connections with their children. When I am not working I enjoy painting, reading, and pottering around the Internet.
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3 Responses to A Brief Introduction to Learning Styles

  1. This type of “learning” challenge is what school teachers face all the time.

  2. Wonder if this is why I like Godly Play so much: includes sacred story telling with objects which gives the story visual, auditory, and tactile components. A bit tough for a Kinesthetic learner to sit through the first ‘telling’ in circle but there is full access to the elements to handle afterwards to explore and hopefully really absorb the story then.

    Challenge for the storyteller in that approach is having to be proficient in presenting in all three modalities!! (and by memory – a ‘script’ interrupts focus. So good for teller too though – makes for an authentic and meaningful presentation of our deeply meaning-filled stories)

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