Student Learning Styles

Improve the Way Your Children Learn

When our daughters were in elementary school, their speech therapist did me a great service, and it had very little to do with improving the clarity of their speech.  She told me that, although most children are sequential learners, both of our younger daughters were simultaneous learners.  This meant that they did better when someone explained the “big picture” to them.  This was the beginning of an entirely new way for me to help them, and it made a tremendous difference in their educational experience.  Based on that conversation, I learned more about the different student learning styles and how to help my children by using these various learning styles to enhance their ability to absorb new material.  Listed below are some of the more common children’s learning styles, and how you can apply them to help your kids, too.

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 You may also wish to get a more in depth understanding of this information.  If so, I highly recommend the book: "The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles."  It has been rated 5 out of 5 stars by a number of parents and educators.

Sequential Learners

Sequential learners learn best when the material is presented to them in logical order, or step-by-step.  They need to be exposed to the material a little at a time, and build upon what they already know.  Sequential learning is the most common learning style, and traditional teaching methods are designed to cater to the sequential learner.

If you are a sequential learner, you probably find it helpful to make lists of things to do.  You like the feeling of being organized, and you like to check things off your list as your do them.  Sequential learners also tend to complete their assignments and turn them in on time.  Sequential learners are usually analytical, and detail oriented.

Sequential learners get frustrated by other students who act up in class, so they tend to do better if they sit in the front and avoid distractions.  If you were teaching a sequential learner to write a poem, you would start by teaching them about rhyming.  Then, you would teach them the different types of poems.  Later you would add meter and other aspects of poetry writing, until they were finally able to produce a poem.

Simultaneous Learners

A simultaneous learner likes to see the big picture.  They are impulsive and prefer to plunge into things and give it a try, even if they don’t understand all the little parts.  Simultaneous learners tend to be creative risk takers.  It helps simultaneous learners to be shown the goal, so they know what the finished product will look like.  For example, if you are teaching a simultaneous learner to write a poem, they would want to start right away, even if they haven’t learned about rhyming, meter, or the different types of poetry.  A simultaneous learner would want to start writing their own poetry as soon as you began reading poetry to them and showing them examples of poems.  Later, you might have to go back and teach them how to rhyme their poems, or use different styles of poetry, in order to improve the quality of their poetry.

According to researchers at Northwestern University, it is common for simultaneous learners to be studying several different topics at the same time.  Simultaneous learners often get frustrated when asked to complete tasks in a certain order, follow a certain pattern or learn a little at a time.  They may complain that it stifles their creativity. 

With my own children, I tried to help them see the big picture when they were learning something new.  When they were learning the colors on a color wheel, for example, I would show them art work that used complimentary and analogous color combinations.  When they were studying historic details, I would attempt to expose them to the major events that were going on during that period of history.  It helped them to become a little more patient, when they understood why they were learning these specific details.  I also let them plunge into trying new things at home, even when they were still learning things sequentially at school.

Kinesthetic or Tactile Learners

In addition to children being either sequential or simultaneous learners, there are other learning styles, as well.  The first way that children learn is by touching and handling objects.  This is called being a kinesthetic or tactile learner.

Kinesthetic learners learn best when they feel the items they are studying.  Nearly everyone starts life as a kinesthetic learner.  If you observe a baby, they love to touch and taste everything.  That is how they begin to understand the world around them.  Most hyperactive children are kinesthetic because they always seem to be in motion, touching everything, tapping their fingers, or scribbling on their paper.  These children learn best when they can actively participate in what they are learning.  For example, they will remember the material longer if they engage in role playing, performing science experiments, doing math problems on the white board in the front of the class, or being actively engaged in similar manners.

Visual Learners

As children get older, begin to mature, and are able to read and write, they are capable of becoming visual learners.  Visual learners are able to learn by reading, or by looking at written instructions or examples.  Visual learners like to take notes and write reminders for themselves.  Making their own flashcards is a great way for visual learners to study and learn information.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners can remember material that they have heard.  They learn best when information is set to music; for example, it helps them to recite the names of all the states in a song.  Many children can benefit by learning things that are recited to them frequently.  How many people have remembered some of their spelling rules by memorizing little sayings such as, “i before e, except after c?”  These little auditory memory tricks are useful throughout life.

Teaching to Your Children’s Learning Styles

It is most important to remember that everyone learns best when they are exposed to a wide variety of teaching styles.  Even if someone is primarily a sequential and auditory learner, it will be helpful for them to also be exposed to the big picture, just like the simultaneous learner, and to have the opportunity to include tactile and visual experiences as part of the lesson plan.  The more variety there is in the classroom teaching methods, the more easily children will be able to retain the material.

Learning Styles Online Test

If you wish to determine what type of learner your child is, you may want to have them take the free online learning styles inventory at   It will be an interesting experience for both you and your child.

If you are interested in reading more about helping your children stay safe, and do well in school, you may also want to read some of the following articles:

Financial Literacy for Kids

Skills for High School Success

How to Enjoy Middle School Success

Preparing Your Child for Elementary School Success

Help Your Kids Have a Great School Year

Summer Activities to do with Your Kids

This Book Will Help Explain Learning Styles in More Detail

The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles: A Fresh and Demystifying Approach
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Help your students or your children maximize your potential by becoming familiar with their learning style.