Contrary to popular belief, not every student learns the same way. The truth is that there are dozens of different learning styles out there, and it is a teacher’s job to find ways to support each style.
This is easier said than done, but those that have come before us have helped to pave the way. For those unfamiliar with this term, learning styles refer to how people learn from the world around them. Let’s take a moment to break down what this means.
Different Learning Styles
While there are dozens of different learning styles, there are four dominant styles. These styles are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing. The names are fairly self-explanatory, but we’ll take a moment to explain each one.
Visual learners do better with learning when they are allowed to see or visualize their lessons. For example, they’ll learn better using maps, diagrams, and written directions. Then there are auditory learners, who excel during lectures and other auditory lessons. These students do well when their studies are primarily auditory, such as lectures. An example would be a student speaking while reading or repeating back instructions.
Kinesthetic learners are students who do better with more tactile lessons. An example of this would be students who prefer to act out their lessons or get hands-on during lesson plans. Finally, there’s reading/writing learning. These students excel when provided the chance to write notes or read instructions.
It’s important to remember that students may present with any combination of these dominant learning styles, leading to a wide variety of styles in every classroom.
Supporting Different Learning Styles
Now that we understand that not every child will learn the same way, it is essential to support these alternative styles. Ideally, a lesson plan should include a mixture of the above, as it can best accommodate the broadest range of learners.
Supporting these students also requires a certain level of understanding. For example, when dealing with an auditory learner, a certain level of patience may be required. The student may not be intentionally interrupting class, but rather by repeating the lesson, they are doing their best to absorb the information.
How can one lesson plan accommodate all these styles? While it may sound like a challenge, there are ways to do so. An assignment with verbal and written instructions will automatically appeal to three of the four dominant learning styles. By adding the opportunity to get more hands-on with an assignment, a teacher can ensure that the lesson plan applies to all four dominant learning styles.