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ABC’s Learning and Teaching Styles: Work with Your Child’s Strengths

ABC’s Learning and Teaching Styles: Work with Your Child’s Strengths

What are your child’s dominant learning styles? When watching your child, does he prefer to paint, dance to music, build with LEGO, learn about animals, or play outside? What activities capture her attention and hold her interest? Choose activities that align with your child’s favorite ways to play and learn. As a preschooler, Cole spent much of his time in the sandbox with his tractors. Drawing letters in the sand with a stick for a pencil and placing rocks in the shape of letters captured his interest. Focus on the topics that appeal to your child. We all love to learn about topics that fascinate us. Three-year-old Addy is crazy about tigers. Alphabet activities for the letter “Tt” focused on tigers. We read about tigers and went to the zoo to see tigers. Her enthusiasm for tigers accelerated her learning about the letter “Tt”.

Howard Gardner, a Harvard professor, introduced a theory of learning styles. Gardner suggests eight learning styles. Each of us uses a mix of learning styles. Learning our children’s dominant styles can help us tailor our approach and make learning more effective. To help determine our child’s areas of strength, simply watch him play.

The eight styles or multiple intelligences are:

1. Bodily (or Kinesthetic): These children like to role-play and often use their hands when speaking. These children may be restless in a situation where they are expected to sit down. Kinesthetic learners often enjoy sports, dance, hiking, or acting. Kinesthetic activities for learning the alphabet would include making letters with your body. For example, extend your arms out to the sides to form a “T” shape. Hand movements that are coordinated with letter sounds add a strong kinesthetic component to learning. Active ABC songs like Hap Palmer’s “Alphabet in Motion” get kids moving while teaching ABC’s.

2. Space: Can your child build amazing things with LEGO? Artists, architects and builders have great spatial knowledge. These children love to draw and use play dough. Make ABC letters out of play dough or double pipe cleaners into letter shapes for spatial learning.

3. Interpersonal: These children relate well to others. They prefer to learn in a group setting. These children are often useful to siblings and other people. An interpersonal approach to teaching the ABC’s might include playing ABC Bingo with a small group of friends or family.

4. Musical: Does your child play the rhythm to a song or make up music? All children benefit from listening to music and enjoying simple instruments. Even if you don’t sing well, sing with your child. There are lots of fun ABC songs. Sing them while you play at making homemade musical instruments. Fill a water bottle with rice to use as a blender, recycle a can of oatmeal into a drum, or play rhythmic drumsticks.

5. Linguistics: Does your child love books? This is an important area for school success, and like any of the intelligence areas, it can be practiced and improved. Linguistic intelligence involves language, writing and reading. Read alphabet books to practice ABCs. There are many entertaining ABC books including Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Alphabet City, Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC, 26 Letters and 99 Cents, I Spy A to Z, and Animalia.

6. Naturalist – This is the most recently recognized area of ​​intelligence added since the original list was published. Does your child enjoy watching and learning about birds, plants, stars, or dinosaurs? Work on your child’s favorite topics while practicing the ABC’s. For example, for the letter F, learn about fossils. For the letter B, go bird watching. For the letter D, find library books and movies about dinosaurs. Another powerful technique for your outdoor-loving child is to draw the letters in the damp dirt with a stick or in a pie pan in a mud pie. Letters can also be formed with arranged rocks or sticks.

7. Intrapersonal: Does your child prefer to work alone? Intrapersonal intelligence involves understanding oneself and reflecting. Some adults and children prefer to work alone. Pull out a page from the newspaper or a grocery store ad and ask your child to highlight or circle the letter she is working on. We all need alone time from time to time.

8. Logical (or Mathematical): Does your child love to count? Logical/mathematical kids are the scientists, computer programmers, and mathematicians of the future. Have your child count the number of a specific letter that he finds in the supermarket. On the pay line you can complement her, “Wow, you found the letter D twenty-four times!”

For all children, a multi-sensory approach that combines multiple senses and styles is best. After observing your child, find his two or three strongest learning styles. Focus on activities that match your child’s learning strengths. Building your child’s confidence with successful learning will benefit them throughout their school years. You are the expert on your child. Your understanding of your child’s passions runs deep and can spark a lifelong love of learning and exploration.

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