Something has to give. I’m not sure what it is, but every day more and more kids are falling through the cracks because their brain is built differently. And it’s unfair. Adults are different, and that’s widely accepted. There are millions of careers and groups and ideas in this world to cater to millions of styles of adult thinking, so why can’t education cater to the different types of learners?
Granted, learning comes in so many ways, and it’s unfair to peg all the intricacies of it with just categorizing them into 4 types, but it’s a start! And in no way, am I even insinuating that teachers need to do more, because as it is, what’s on their plate is WAY more than they should have. Factor into that teacher pay, and I’m surprised so many are still working. Teachers deserve to be on a pedestal and showered with gratitude because they try to do the impossible every day.
However, without a doubt, our children also need help. They need help to learn, because long are the days of expecting a child to sit in a desk and copy off the board. I think if parents and teachers worked as a team together, we can at least start there. Therefore, in an effort to bridge that gap I will explain the four different types of learners found in the VARK Model, as well as give examples of what can be done to help those learners better absorb and comprehend the material learned in school.
In 1987 Neil Flemming developed a model to identify a person’s individualized learning preferences called the VARK Model of Learning. The four types of learners are Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic.
In today’s day and age of video game and Youtube, this type of learner is becoming a bigger part of the classroom population. And oftentimes, actually more often than not, they are being misdiagnosed with ADHD. These are the iPad generation kids. These type of children need constant and quick stimulus to engage the senses.Mimicking that of an iPad or the Television. Many educators have a problem with this type of learner because it is very difficult to keep their attention for long periods of time. And although I agree with that, I also understand that exposure to technology is here to stay, and if I don’t adapt, I become a dinosaur.
These children need information presented as maps, spider diagrams, charts, graphs, flow charts, labeled diagrams, and all the symbolic arrows, circles, hierarchies, or other devices that people use to represent what could have been presented in words.Lots of YouTube and apps, Educational videos and games. Everything can be found on YouTube.
If your child loves to go on YouTube and watch videos about everything, playing games on the iPad is their go-to reward, or they’re glued to their video games, they are visual learners. My suggestion is that before they glue themselves to their devices, block games and have them read a book. Or, play an educational game such as Education Galaxy. There are millions of apps and games out there. For every 30 min of video games, they should do 30 min of educational games. This is what bridging the gap between school and home looks like. And if your child complains, tough cookies! Playing an educational game is not torture. They’re like vegetables. Not your favorite, but good for you!
This type of learner tends to be very capable of handling mainstream education, however they’re the ones that are always on Red for talking! They can’t for the life of them, keep quiet. How do you remedy this in school? Instead of punishing so much for talking, have them teach the class, or pull them aside and listen to them. And if they talk again, remind them that they had their chance and if they want it again, they need to respect the structure of the class. It’s almost like you’re containing the talking. It’s a win-win situation.
They also learn very well from listening to lectures. Oftentimes they prefer to listen to an audiobook than read it. Sometimes they need to close their eyes to listen better. This helps them to hear and process the information at hand. Think of the entire auditory process when it comes to this learner. Not just listening, but speaking as well.
At home, it’s imperative that you allow them to talk to you about their day. Can this be annoying? Absolutely! After 20 minutes of the same thing, thi can feel like torture. But it’s necessary because you gave them the voice they needed to feel satisfied. Give these children a camera and tell them to record a movie about their HW after they finish the HW. Play teacher with them. These children need the opportunity to express themselves because this is how they learn.
This kind of learner is every teacher’s dream, and they tend to be the ones who get rewarded the most. Why? Because they are super independent. They like information displayed in words, text-based input and output. They love manuals, reports essays… a teacher’s dream!!
They also grow up to be over-achievers. Overachievers are good, however, they are also extremely hard on themselves and can burn out. These children are usually quiet and somewhat reserved, and may have a hard time expressing themselves verbally. They love to write and draw. Sometimes they can have Obsessive tendencies making lists.They find comfort in schedules. Reading a book or looking at the pictures in the book is their favorite thing to do.
Kinesthetic Learners are often times also misdiagnosed with ADHD. They are ALWAYS on the move.I’ve taught quite a few Kinesthetic learners who just can’t sit still. Oftentimes they are playing with a pencil and drop it, just so they can pick it up. And they do this because they need a reset to keep learning. Or they stand instead of sit when they are learning. I don’t know about you, but if I’m at a meeting, sometimes I need to stand and I go to the bathroom because if I don’t move I will either fall asleep or zone out. We need to stop punishing these children for needing to move. And if they are disruptive, put them in the back of the room.
Children that are kinesthetic learners gather information through experience and practice, simulated or real, either through concrete personal experiences, examples, practice or simulation.They also learn through demonstrations, simulations, hands-on experience, practice, and manipulatives.
These children sometimes get in trouble both at home and school for poking and prodding things around the house. They break everything and make messes. But they also love building and painting and anything that involves the senses. They love to be in the middle of everything and to be a part of everything.
As I stated previously, I feel that the only way to alleviate our lackluster education system is to stop pointing fingers and come together as a team to bridge the gap between home and school. Children spend more time in school than home sometimes, and as a result teachers should be seen as an extension of a child’s development. In turn, all homes are different and teachers need to stop homogenizing the classroom.
Teachers, we need to change with the times. We should not strive to be fossils who remain unchanging with time. That’s a lazy approach. Instead, we need to embrace this brave new world that is shaping and forming the people of the future. Egos down. You won’t win. To survive, you must change.
And parents, stop seeing the teacher as an enemy and work with them. Advocate for your child but listen to your teacher. Kids are way different in school, I promise. Listen to what the teachers say and work with them instead of against them. They have seen and dealt with way more kids than you have ever seen, and at some point they have dealt with a child similar to yours. Work together. Not against each other. Bridge the gap.
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A mom of 2 beautiful children, 2 amazing step-kids and I have a wonderful and amazing partner who is my number one fan. I am a teacher with 15 years of experience. I have a Masters Degree that helps me create the tools I need to tailor education for children who learn differently. I know the struggle of working full time and coming home exhausted to continue part 2 of your day. Your child’s success in school is tied to the tools you give them at home. Let me give you the keys you need to unlock success for your children at school.