By Felicity LuHill
April 17, 2017
When encouraging kids to read, it’s important to note their specific learning styles. Every child has his own way of learning and trying to make him learn through a different method can prove to be frustrating and counterproductive.
When I tutored a fourth grader who was having trouble learning her times tables, her teacher insisted I repetitively use flashcards with her. However, doing this proved to make the process more confusing to her. The numbers got jumbled, and she couldn’t retain any information. I decided to move on to tactile learning objects. You may be familiar with small yellow cubes that come individually, as well as in packs of fives, tens, twenties, etc. This method wound up being far more effective for her. She could physically understand how the numbers corresponded to each other.
Understanding the best learning techniques for an individual child goes beyond times tables, it applies for reading too, and every other area of study. Here are the different methods through which people learn. Most people learn best by using a mix of two or even three methods. Remember, there’s no “right” way to learn. It’s all about figuring what’s best for your early reader.
- Visual: learns best with pictures and other visual aids. For this type of early reader, pick picture books that heavily rely on illustrations. Decipher what kinds of illustrations he likes best. Perhaps he likes the look of a specific character as they go through a series of books, or perhaps he prefers watercolor pictures over more simple, sketched books.
- Aural: learns best by sound or music. For this type of early reader, using intonation while reading out loud is important. Try different voices for different characters. If a character has a catchphrase, say it the same way every time. Let your early reader repeat you, and ask you to repeat. That’s how he learns!
- Verbal: learns best with words, both in spoken and written. For this type of early reader, try engaging him in a dialogue about the book as you’re reading together. More words will be associated with what he’s reading, and he will gain more from the experience.
- Physical: learns best with the body and touch. This is where the fuzzy books come in handy! The books that have puppets built in, or have holes in the pages. Books with things to touch and hold will grab this early reader’s attention. Another way to gain an older early reader’s attention is to act out what’s on the page. Try using props, or even costumes! Anything that will get your early reader moving and engaging with the material.
- Logical: learns best with logic, reasoning, and systems. For this type of early reader, books that have a clear cause and effect will engage him the most. Avoid books where random things happen to a character throughout their day. Try books where one thing leads to the next, to the next, etc. Like the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series. While you’re reading you can even draw a colorful chart together of “what” caused “what” and “why.” This will engage the reader in a fluid sense of reasoning.
Within these types of methods there is also “Social” learning and “Solitary” learning, which is essentially the difference between wanting to learn in groups versus wanting to learn alone. If your reader prefers to play with others, try engaging in a group reading session. If he’d rather play by himself, stick to reading with just the two of you.
Most likely your reader will respond to a combination of a couple of these learning styles combined. You should feel free to play around with it and have fun! As with all subjects, there’s more than one way to read a book!
“Learning-styles-online.com.” Overview of learning styles. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
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