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Help Your Kids Reach Their Full, God-given Potential
As a parent, you have probably noticed that no two children are alike. But it may surprise you to know that the way they learn may be just as unique as how they look or act.
Understanding how your child thinks and sees the world can be key to his success, both in school and Awana. When children experience success growing up, they are more likely to grow into confident, caring adults who succeed in marriage, career and parenting.
Researchers have found that many children have learning styles that are incompatible with traditional classroom environments. In today's budget-crunched schools, for example, a child who learns by physically doing may seem like a distraction to the classroom.
Special gifts may also slip by unnoticed in the unbending structure often found in traditional schools. Musical abilities may seem less important than math skills, for example. With obstacles like these, it takes an involved parent to help a child reach his full potential.
Identify Your Child's Style
Most children learn through their senses. Even as babies, they experience the world through taste, touch, smell and observation. As your child grows, he often favors one of three types of learning: visual (by watching), auditory (by hearing) or kinesthetic (by doing).
Your child's preference may change over time or even day to day. While no one fits neatly into any one category, identifying your child's dominant learning style can dramatically improve his ability to learn both in and out of the classroom. Even family relationships may improve as you begin to understand your child's way of thinking.
Determining Your Child's Learning Style
Using the checklists below, you can identify your child's dominant learning style. No child fits neatly into a single category. But understanding which preference is strongest in your child can help her learn more efficiently -- and that can translate into better grades and more success.
The Visual Learner
- Prefers books with pictures and illustrations
- May seem to daydream during a lesson or conversation
- Is distracted easily by untidiness or movement
- May forget names, but remembers faces
How to Help Your Child:
Draw a picture: Whether your child is memorizing a verse from Scripture in Awana or learning a new vocabulary word at school, a visual learner will grasp the meaning more effectively if she draws a picture. Even if your child is not gifted artistically, the process of illustrating a concept visually will help her remember its meaning longer.
Use flash cards: Often the process of writing the question and answer on a flash card is enough to help a visual learner memorize a fact, multiplication table or Bible verse. Using colorful paper for the cards can also help the visual child concentrate as she flashes through the questions and answers until she has mastered them.
The Auditory Learner
- Enjoys listening but also likes to talk
- May forget faces but remembers names
- Likes talking on the telephone
- Generally likes music and rhythm
How to Help Your Child:
Turn it into a song: Most auditory learners remember best when the concept is spoken aloud over and over or put to a musical rhythm or song. Even if it doesn't rhyme or sound like a classical masterpiece, a catchy beat can go a long way in helping your child remember everything from the 50 states to a difficult Bible verse.
Talk it over: Answer any questions your child has about what he is learning. Let him explain it to you, once he has figured it out. It's best not to discourage an auditory child from talking to herself, singing or reading out loud when she is studying.
The Kinesthetic Learner
- Has difficulty sitting still for very long
- Likes action books and movies
- Will try almost anything impulsively
- May have a short attention span
How to Help Your Child:
Let your child move: It's hard to believe, but a kinesthetic learner is actually listening while fidgeting restlessly and looking in every direction. If your child is a kinesthetic learner, you may want to discuss with his teachers how to allow for his need to be in constant motion, as long as it doesn't affect his grades or distract the class.
Homework on the run: Most kinesthetic children can only concentrate for about 10 minutes on their studies before they need a break. Try combining physical activity with homework by helping your child act out what he is learning through short skits or simply using creative body movements and hand signals.
No Style Is the "Right" One
Teach your child that we all have strengths and weaknesses. God gave us challenges so that we would be humble and rely on Christ. Show your child that when we learn from weaknesses and nurture our strengths, we are always a winner in God's eyes.