learning styles

8 Different Learning Styles

So, no, our children aren’t monkeys, elephants, fish and seals all trying to climb a tree. However, they are all unique and different in the way they learn, which is why school, classwork and homework can appear to be very easy for some children, while for others it’s a struggle to just get through the day. If your child is one of those who becomes frustrated and overwhelmed or zones out, don’t give up hope; their learning style may have something to do with it.

A learning style is simply the best way a person receives, interprets and retains information. With a little knowledge of the different learning styles and some observation of your own child, you and your child’s teachers can really set a framework for a tailored learning environment that will help your child be successful.

There used to be only three learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic but that is no longer the case. Recently, researchers have discovered that there are actually eight different learning styles (sometimes referred to as intelligences). They are:

  1. Linguistic
  2. Logical-mathematical
  3. Visual-spatial
  4. Intrapersonal
  5. Interpersonal
  6. Musical
  7. Bodily-Kinesthetic
  8. Naturalistic

Learning Style Charts

{I love how this chart breaks it down. Image via Loving2learn.com}

So why is this important to know? If your child is struggling in school, it may be because his classroom mainly teaches in a visual or linguistic style, and your little one (who may be a kinesthetic learner) might appear to fall behind the rest of his peers because of it.  Knowing their strengths can help you in find a solution, which is important, because your child may feel like the elephant above trying to climb a tree if they aren’t given an opportunity to learn via their strong style.

Once you have the knowledge, inform your child’s teachers who probably have lots of great ideas to implement various learning styles into the curriculum. We are all smart in different ways, which is why we all go into certain professions. Some like to analyze data and work alone, while others prefer to be working in a team environment with music in the background and everyone chiming in. It’s no different for your child in a school or group environment.

There is a test you can take here from Edutopia.org that provides a snippet of your learning style strengths and weaknesses based on your answers. I’ve taken this quiz several times and have received the exact same results. I’m a musical learner first, followed closely by a nature learner, which makes perfect sense. I am most at peace when I am listening to music or am outdoors connecting with nature. So for me, when I learn something that has an accompanying song, I will know it for life (conjunction junction, what’s your function?).


Now for your kiddos who are too young to take the test, you can observe their play to help determine what kind of a learning style they have. Perhaps they are always drawn to the play-doh table or a sports activity (kinesthetic). If you notice your young babe could sit and do hours of worksheets chances are he is probably a linguistic, visual or intrapersonal learner (or some combination of those).



{Image via here}

Once you understand the ways your child prefers to play, you can incorporate new strategies into their studies. For instance, I’ve brainstormed and collected some great ideas below for you to tailor some basic educational concepts for various learning styles.

Visual Learners:

  • Let them keep a personal whiteboard or chalkboard on which they can draw or write.
  • Use lots of pictures and visual aids to accompany word problems, math concepts, etc.

visual math learner


{Image via New York Times}

Auditory Learners:

  • Play games like “Simon Says” where they have to listen to directions.

  • Use a bingo board where they have to listen and connect things to a visual picture. This free, printable farm bingo board is here.


Kinesthetic Learners: I’ve included a few more of these ideas because they tend to be more “out of the box.”

  • “Jump into learning.” Find numerous ways here to get your child physically engaged in learning, like alphabet hopscotch!

alphabet hopscotch

  • If your child always seems to be wiggling in her chair, try having her sit on an exercise ball while doing her homework. It will give her enough of a kinesthetic release while allowing her to focus on homework as well.

  • Writing in sand. I love the idea of using an unsharpened pencil (or their finger) to trace letters, numbers and small words in sand. You could do this with shaving cream, too!

sand letters

Naturalistic Learners:

  • Create an outdoor classroom! Bring a table and chairs outside to help put them in a calming environment.

  • Go on a nature walk and collect various objects. Then sort them, paint them, or draw them!

  • Use lots of senses: what does the tree look like? Feel like? Smell like? Etc.

  • Grow your own garden. You can use your backyard garden as a tool to discuss the science of plants, where food comes from, etc.

Music Learners:

  • Anything with music! Try having them drum as they count.

  • Let them sing their spelling words, create silly songs around math problems and dance or hop while telling a story or reciting a poem.

Intrapersonal Learners:

  • Allow for a quiet space for them to do their work.

Interpersonal Learners:

  • Study buddies are great for these social learners.

Now, we can’t only expose our children to the one learning style that works best for them. In fact, providing students with multiple ways to learn has been shown to improve student learning overall. Its a great idea to expose them to all sorts of learning styles. Just pay attention to their work and if they start to shut down or turn their brains off (I’m guilty of this at work, too), then take a break and choose an activity that plays into their learning style strength!

If your child is a musical learner, take a break by letting them pick out any song and just dance and sing for the entire song. Do it two or three times and then agree that after the last song it would be back to work time. Similarly for an auditory learner, if they’ve been writing and typing away, play a quick game of “Simon Says.” Giving their brains a break from challenging work can lead to more productive spurts and can-do attitudes.

And don’t forget, siblings will probably not be very similar in the way they learn, so don’t expect the same style from each of them. Remember that they are individuals with distinct personalities.

It’s also good to take the test yourself. If you don’t already know what kind of learner you are, it can be fun to find out! And by knowing this information, you might find different ways to relate to your little one if you are similar or different in the way you approach learning.

To get a further breakdown of the different learning styles, visit here.

Here’s to hoping we can set the stage for all children to reach their full potential! Happy learning everyone!

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