Your child’s been invited to a get-together within walking distance of home—but in unfamiliar territory. Here are your choices: Tell him how to get there; jot down the all the lefts and rights to be taken, noting a landmark or two; draw a map to accompany him along the way. What works offers clues as to how he best takes in information, responds to it, and learns–by listening, seeing, or feeling his way. Now for a closer look.

Is your child rather chatty, distractible, and outgoing? Is she often heard humming away, talking, maybe even debating? Do names make a deeper impression than faces, and are oral instructions more helpful than written directions? If so, she may well be an auditory learner where hearing is more effective than looking, and oral reading, books-on-tape, and being read to are big hits. And, when arranging information, lists and outlines are usually preferred over graphic organizers.

If that doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you’re living with a visual learner, instead. Though not that easily distracted, his mind tends to wander at times, and he prefers his directions written rather than spoken. Fairly quiet by nature, observing bests speaking or acting out, as does silent reading over oral. Spelling is usually a plus here, and he probably recalls faces better than names. Given to doodling, with a penchant for puzzles, computer graphics, and movies, he remembers best when information is seen, not just heard. And, to organize it all, a graphic wins over lists and outlining just about every time.

Then there’s the hands-on learner, the one most short-changed by schools with their rows of desks and lecturing teachers. Preferred location? The science lab. If she’s a kinesthetic learner, she understands best by manipulating the world—handling it, so to speak. Outgoing by nature, role playing is well-liked, as is attempting new things. Often in motion, conversations are frequently accompanied by hand gestures, touching, even hugging. And when studying, a pencil or foot is usually tapping away. Unfortunately, reading and spelling probably don’t come easily, so writing out information and acting it out in some way is advisable. Says Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D., “Movement is the door to learning.”

Now for some strength training. While most of us favor one learning style over another, we can sharpen our ability to learn and recall by relying on the assets of all three modalities. In other words, we can learn and profit from one another, so encourage your child to . . .

1. Use audio tapes, form mental pictures, and pace/walk when studying.

2. Take careful notes, make up rhymes/poems, and physically act out information.

3. Sound out words, unlock meanings via parts of words, and study out loud.

4. Recite information frequently, write it out, and set it to rhythm.

5. Engage in discussions, create graphic organizers or charts and write out information.

6. Listen to oral directions, write them out, and repeat them.

7. Use flash cards, talk it through, and be tested by a friend/parent when ready.

8. Copy carefully from the board, illustrate information, or transfer it to graphic

9. Carefully align numbers when doing math, write on surfaces with his fingers, and use a

10. Highlight while reading, watch demonstrations and related programming, connect
feelings with facts and concepts..

11. Listen very carefully, color code materials, and move about often.

12. Read information out loud, close his eyes, and write information in the air.

13. Accompany homework with classical music playing softly in the background.

14. Use mnemonics when memorizing, as in there’s a rat in separate.