of Learning Styles
Five Models of Learning Styles
by Mary E. Askew
from the March/April 1989 issue of The
Understanding our children's preferred
learning styles can help us to establish
learning environments that foster readiness
and produce more effective learning.
The term leaning style has been described
in various ways as
learning style is based on biological,
emotional, sociological, physiological, and
learning style is everything that
controls how we take in, concentrate on,
understand, process, store, remember, and use
learning style is the combination of
preferences that a student has for ways of
thinking, learning tools, relating to others,
or various learning experiences.
learning style is one's natural learning
strengths, individual gifts, and bents.
learning style is the way each child
perceives the world differently.
In summery, a child's learning style
develops from different factors and
represents his most natural style of
1. Information Processing
Information processing styles refer to the
way in which the child concentrates, absorbs,
and retains information.
Learners prefer details; step-by-step
approaches; fact-by-fact modes; focused
approaches; consistency; and logical,
objective, and organized presentations of
Learners prefer seeing the broad view
(the big picture), using intuition, seeing
the interrelationships between things, doing
group activities, and completing multiple
2. Perceptual Ability
Perceptual ability is the method we use to
take in information to observe our
world. Perceptual characteristic is an
important learning-style factor.
individuals learn as a result of hearing,
verbalizing, and listening.
children input information by reading,
seeing, and watching.
learners acquire knowledge using feeling,
touching, handling, or manipulation.
learning comes by motion, experience, and
3. Cognitive Processes
A third learning style model deals with
the processes of knowing or cognitive
The Perceptual Process deals with the way
we view our environment.
Learners record information received from
their senses of sight, smell, touch, taste,
and hearing. They view things in a
tangible, factual, and literal way.
Learners prefer studying relationships
and unseen ideas. They use intuition
After being perceived, new information is
processed, understood, used, and stored in
one of two ordering styles.
Learners organize information in a
step-by-step manner. They like logical
and linear thinking.
Learners are spontaneous.
The relationship between the perceptual
and the ordering abilities results in four
4. Multiple Intelligences
A fourth learning model deals with
multiple kinds of intelligence. At
least seven have been identified. They
describe an individual's areas of strength.
5. Areas of Need
Four additional learning factors are
related to the learner's needs in four areas.
Learning Environment produces effects on
the learner by changes in sound, light,
temperature, and setting.
Preferences include the child's
motivation, persistence, focusing,
responsibility, conformity, independence, and
response to structure.
Needs reflect the child's desire to be
alone, with a peer, in a group, or with an
Needs are comprised of food needs, the
need to move around, and the best time of day
by Joy Marie Dunlap
from the March/April 1989 issue of The
Every child is a totally unique creation,
information in the world around him in a
I have found that recognizing,
accommodating each child's unique learning
style makes a huge
difference in the child's attitude toward
learning and how much
knowledge he is able to absorb and retain.
Many models have been used to define
different learning styles
based on generalized personality types.
All of these are helpful,
but none are exhaustive, since there are
literally billions of
personalities on the earth today, each
somewhat different than
all the others.
One model involves recognizing which of
the five senses a
child relates to best. This is probably
one of the first
personality factors you are likely to
recognize in your children.
Each of our five babies showed clear
differences in the way he
related to the world around him.
1. The Visual Learner
Joshua was a visual baby. He had to
have interesting things
going on that he could see or he became
fussy. He hated to be
placed face down on a blanket on the
floor. He hated the
sling-type baby carrier, because he could not
see well from
Josh grew into a visual learner. For
him, to see is to
understand. He enjoys reading and loves
to learn from maps,
graphs, charts, and diagrams, which he
memorizes readily from
2. The Auditory Learner
Justin was an auditory baby. It
really did not seem to
matter what he could or could not see.
The important thing was
whether he could hear my voice.
The sling-type baby carrier which Josh had
rejected did not seem to bother Justin as
long as he could hear
interesting sounds around him.
In the early grades, Justin liked to learn
and conversation. I taught him
arithmetic using story problems.
3. The Kinesthetic Learner
Judah is a kinesthetic learner. He
learns best by doing,
touching, feeling, and experiencing. As
a baby, Judah was
constantly in motion.
Kinesthetics can be a major challenge to
teach, as books
just aren't their thing – at least not
until later on down the
Judah has a short attention span and finds
it hard to sit
still for very long.
If you have a child with kinesthetic
tendencies, do not
automatically assume that he is hyperactive
It is a mistake to fail to train a
kinesthetic child in
character like any other child.
Kinesthetic children need extra
time and patience, because it is challenging
for them to learn to
control their impulses.
But kinesthetic learners can learn
self-control waiting their turn to speak,
attention span (gradually), and learning to
sit still when
I planned Judah's courses to include extra
activities such as nature walks and hands-on
science, period crafts in history, all kinds
of manipulatives in
math, and plastic letters in language arts.
I also used a large
number of library books, since the full-color
Judah's attention and helped him concentrate
on what I was
At first Judah could pay attention for
only about 15 minutes
at a time, so I presented factual material
through picture books
for that long and followed the lesson with an
additional 10 to 15
minutes of feedback on his part in the form
of retelling what he
had learned or drawing it on paper.
1. The Social Personality
Jennaya is socially oriented. She
enjoys school best when we
are doing things together. And she
loves to do well to please
those she is with and is accountable to, so
she tries hard even
when completing independent assignments in
Jennaya is most motivated by a smile, a
hug, or a smiley
face on her paper.
2. The Achievement-Oriented
The achievement-oriented personality loves
to reach new
goals for their own sake. All I have to
do to get Joshua to learn
something is to express it as a goal, and he
will not rest until
he has met the challenge. I have to be
careful what I say. If I
suggest a challenge he is not ready for, he
may get frustrated.
The achievement-oriented personality can
perfectionist, and self-critical. These
children readily learn
independently and are motivated
naturally accept authority, but can be
trained to (as all
children should). They love to be given
goals to meet on their
own initiative, but you still need to check
up on them like any
These children are also planners.
Josh likes his whole day
all planned out as soon as he gets up and is
frustrated by the need to be flexible and
deal with unexpected
changes in plans.
Josh now plans his entire week of schooling
ahead of time and then brings it to me for
approval. This saves
me a tremendous amount of time and is very
satisfying to Joshua.
3. The Scientist Personality
Josh is also a scientist-type
personality. This type can't
stand open-ended assignments. He likes
a predictable world, where
certain rules are always followed. He
enjoys answering factual
questions and actually loves to memorize
facts of all kinds, but
shuns subjective questions which are "candy"
to the creative-type
Josh is both artistic and musical, and he
likes to write
stories. Be he likes music to follow
careful rules, his drawings
are realistic, and he only likes to write
about what could be
proven as fact.
4. The Creative Personality
In contrast, Justin, the creative type,
loves to explore new
possibilities. The creative type loves
questions, including those which ask him to
express his opinion
or compare and contrast two different things
or speculate as to
why something might have occurred.
The creative learner loves to write,
create, and tinker. He
tends to be an undisciplined daydreamer and
may need help staying
focused on assignments, especially those for
which he must
Justin is most motivated to learn facts if
I give him a how
or why puzzle which requires the facts in
order to solve it.
A Balanced Approach
In choosing your curriculum, keep your
personality in mind. We want to get to know
our children's unique
personalities, appreciate them, and teach
difficult facts or
concepts in the learning mode they relate to
Still, every child should be solidly
self-discipline and Christian character, and
every child should
be given facts to master, philosophical
questions to answer, and
hands-on activities to do. Every child needs
A wise teacher will strike a careful
balance between accommodating her children's
individual learning styles and, at the same
time, shoring up their weak points and
training each and every one in Christian
What a delight to have the opportunity to
watch each one of
our children blossom and grow through the
years into a unique and
very special person!
James and Joy Marie Dunlap offer
resources for home educators at www.lighthome.net.
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Our 10-year-old son, Bradley, was reading
silently to himself. His 6-year-old
sister, Christine, was sitting next to him,
looking at the book trying to find words she
recognized. A couple of minutes later
she put her ear to her brother's head.
Bradley asked, "What are you doing?!"
Christine answered, "I'm trying to hear
what you're reading!"
Submitted by Carrie P., North Carolina.
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In This Issue
Easier Teaching / Easier Learning
Know Your Students:
Identify Their Personal Learning Styles
• Lookers: Visual/Spatial
• Listeners: Auditory
• Different Models of Learning
• Five Children: Five
• Sing 'n Learn: Hundreds
of Audio Resources
• Candy 4WAY Phonics
Program: Systematic Phonics
• Birch Court Books:
• Fun for Kidz Magazines:
for Children 5-13
The information on learning styles in this
(very full!) issue can serve as an
introduction to how children learn, and thus
can give you valuable ideas about how to
teach your individual children.
Keep in mind that as children grow and
mature, their learning style(s) may change.
Inge Cannon says in her article, "Your
goal as a teacher should be to make your
children eventually comfortable with all
three means of getting information."
Joy Marie Dunlap says in her article, "A
wise teacher will strike a careful balance
between accommodating her children's
individual learning styles and, at the same
time, shoring up their weak points and
training each and every one in Christian
May the Lord bless you and your family for
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Know Your Students:
Identify Their Personal Learning
by Inge P. Cannon
from the March/April 1989 issue of The
Educators have many ways of defining and
describing the way people process information
including learning personalities, modalities,
and styles. The simplest to understand
and apply involves three categories: lookers,
listeners, and movers.
Visual/Spatial Learners process
information best when they see it.
Auditory Learners are most efficient when
they can hear information.
Kinesthetic or Tactile Learners function
best when they can physically interact with
information in a hands-on way.
It is helpful for a teaching parent to
know his own learning style as well as the
preferred learning style of each child in the
family for several reasons.
1. Teacher's vs. Student's
A teacher will tend to choose curriculum
that appeals to his own best way to learn
because that's what makes the most sense to
If the children's styles are different,
the materials may not make as much sense to
2. Students' Differing Styles
It is common for curriculum (e.g., a
phonics or math program) to work extremely
well for one child, and therefore, the parent
thinks that subsequent children should do
even better since he now knows how to teach
Than comes the shock! Child number 2
or number 3 is wired completely differently
and thus needs a different approach.
3. Enhanced Communications
Effectiveness of communication (even
between spouses) is enhanced when we present
new or complicated information in the manner
the receiver uses best.
The entire population of the world is not
divided into three learning groups,
however. Thus, some children do very
well with two of the three styles.
Occasionally a child is equally adept at all
Sometimes people need to get certain kinds
of information one way and other kinds of
information in a different way.
Furthermore, there is no such thing as one
"right" kind of material for a given learning
However, there are more and less efficient
ways to use what you have. If your
child is not learning what you want him to
learn one way, try another method. Feel
free to adapt the materials you have to the
methods that will help you travel past the
roadblocks in your child's mind.
The checklists below will help you
identify the tendencies of learners in each
Remember that one child will not
demonstrate all the characteristics within a
category. If you check off most of the
characteristics in one category, you will,
however, have confidence that your child
probably does best in that area at this time.
Your goal as a teacher should be to make
your children eventually comfortable
with all three means of getting
After you have presented a new idea
through your child's preferred style, review
the material with some of the other methods
to increase your child's flexibility.
Read below a description of these three
types of learners, plus what makes them
flourish and what they tend to struggles
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Description of Visual/Spatial
to be quiet and often need to be coaxed into
excellent "copycats," functioning best when
they "see" what is expected of them.
especially observant of details and can
frequently find items lost by others.
take copious notes, even when the teacher
promises to provide handouts.
visually organized, easily remember where
things are, and need to have everything in
assemble most things without help from
printed or pictured instructions.
catch your typographical errors and recognize
if they have worked on or seen a page of
it a priority to look neat and be
very aware of spatial relationships and thus
able to create well-spaced drawings,
diagrams, and graphs.
on note paper when talking.
to have a vivid imagination.
have a large reading vocabulary at an early
• Given a
choice, would most like to watch television
or read a book in their spare time.
easily distracted by visual stimuli (e.g., a
new bulletin board or a bird outside the
How To Encourage Visual/Spatial
respond favorably to visible rewards.
Visual/Spatial Learners Flourish
with books and pictures.
to work challenging puzzles.
teacher demonstrates the skill to be learned
(model it) – "show me."
the word before hearing what it is.
• Shown a
picture of the actual object.
position of tongue and lips is demonstrated
when new words are presented.
Note: If you can't have the visual learner
observe the concept or skill you are
teaching, help him visualize it in his
Best Teaching Aids for Visual/Spatial
• Matching Games
and Puzzles (of Every Kind)
• "How-To" Books
Maps, Timelines, Pictures, and Graphs
Strips and Desk Tapes
Visual/Spatial Learners Tend To Struggle
• Creative writing.
beyond the literal meaning.
• Applying arithmetic
to word problems.
a hypothesis and testing it with experiments.
Description of Auditory Learners
to communicate and can generally "talk your
• Remember jingles,
poems, and television commercials
keep a rhythmic pattern going by tapping for
sing beautifully and have excellent pitch
remember names of people they've met or heard
it easy to express themselves verbally.
to read out loud or subvocalize while
sound older than their chronological age (as
a result of their ability to process language
patterns with "tape-recorder accuracy").
to sort out their problems by talking about
out words and are, therefore, usually
to be poor test takers because they can't
sort out visual material fast enough.
listening to a radio, tapes, or CDs in their
well to phonetic reading programs, usually
demonstrating excellent word attack skills.
it easy to follow oral directions.
easily distracted by background noises.
How To Encourage Auditory Learners
• Auditory learners
respond favorably to verbal praise.
Auditory Learners Flourish When:
every step of the skill to be learned.
to move their lips or subvocalize to increase
impressions are combined in reading: read
orally to student while he points to the word
rules, plays, poetry, etc.
Best Teaching Aids for Auditory
Keeping a Beat, and Rhythm Instruments
Games (Singing and Rhythm)
• Creating Conversation
Trips with Interview Focus
Auditory Learners Tend To Struggle
technical or nonfiction writing.
and editing written work.
• Properly researching
attention to detail for accuracy in math,
science, and history.
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Description of Kinesthetic/Tactile
to others more comfortably in action and body
than in words.
to live in perpetual motion, rarely sitting
still – often called "hyperactive."
to touch everything they see or walk past.
lots of gestures and facial expressions when
to show anger physically (e.g., by stomping
feet and slamming doors).
to try things out by touching and feeling,
even as they get older.
make paper airplanes and fans out of their
to be playing, jumping, running, or wrestling
in their spare time.
excellent muscle coordination in sports which
require skills in balancing.
successfully maintain balance while
most distracted when they must be still or
things get "too quiet."
to dislike long-range goal setting and
excellent at taking gadgets apart and can put
them back together again.
listening a difficult challenge.
How To Encourage Kinesthetic/Tactile
respond more favorably to a "pat on the back"
than to "stars" or a favorable comment.
Kinesthetic/Tactile Learners Flourish
learning experiences allow as many
opportunities as possible to do or feel
can demonstrate or model a task for other
through role playing or pantomime. They
love short, dynamic presentations.
• Pointing with
fingers to follow or anchor words in early
are kept moving with appropriate activities.
They love construction.
Best Teaching Aids for
Plays and Puppet
motions (in the air, on paper, on the wall or
Experiences with Sandpaper, Sand, Clay,
and Field Trips
Manipulatives (Blocks, Rods, Chips, Play
and Dramatic Interpretations
Motions in Music
Lines and Maps that he makes himself
key is variety in methods with lots of hands-on
Tend To Struggle with:
on phonics, grammar, and math rules.
long-term projects in science and history.
the relevance of their work to other academic
For More Information
"Learning Styles: Match Curriculum
and Methods to the Needs of Your Children" by
Inge Cannon. Listen to the introduction
and order ($4) online at www.edplus.com.
Also see products offered by Ron and Inge
Cannon in the following categories at Education
PLUS: Help for the Teaching Parent, Help
for Discipling Specific Ages, Help for
Character Building, Gifted & Talented
Children, Etiquette Training, Focus on the
Ladies, and Finally Organized!
Inge Cannon's Homeschool
Transcripts training workshops and
software will make you successful in planning
junior and senior high curriculum,
documenting all secondary level training
options, preparing for college and career
decisions, and presenting professional
credentials for prospective opportunities.
Because we have been separated from God by
sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then
rose to life again. If we trust Him as
our Savior and Lord, He will forgive our sin
and give us eternal life.
"For God so loved the world, that
He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever
believes in Him shall not perish, but have
eternal life." (John 3:16)
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