Carol Gary is a homeschool expert who has worked with parent-educators to train them about teaching their children. I had a conversation with Carol Gary about the four styles of learners. As she explained each one, I saw examples in each of my children’s styles of learning.
It’s important to understand these learning styles so that you can tailor your teaching methods to children in a way that they can best understand. When we are able to reach a child in this way, true learning happens. Knowing a child’s learning style can cut down on frustrations for both the teacher and the learner. The idea behind learning styles is that they give us a framework to work from. Children may have one primary learning style, and have secondary styles as well.
Here are the four types of learners and the way I saw them in my own family.
Moving Learners: These are the types of learners who think outside the box. They are creative, and like doing things that are hands-on. There are a variety of ways information can be delivered to a moving learner. This type of learner generally struggles with organization.
My son who is a moving learner loves to come up with new ideas and ways to do things. He loves making inventions and figuring things out. He has a hard time keeping his school notebooks and room organized. Whenever I have met with his teachers, they say that he is bright but his work is messy. He is able to pick up on things quickly, maybe due to the fact that he is able to learn in a variety of ways.
Structured Learners: This type of learner would be someone who thinks “inside the box.” This type of learner likes answers that are black and white, right and wrong. They are generally visual learners. They enjoy getting stuff done and are efficient and focused. They like schedule and routine. They can struggle with going in depth as they learn.
My oldest, a girl, is a structured learner. She likes making to do list, works hard in school, and is concerned about getting good grades. She gets right to work and stays on task. When assignments are open to interpretation, she has a hard time with them, because she doesn’t always know what the teacher wants.
Analytical Learners: Carol describes this learner as one who is “staring at the box.” This learner gets very deep in their thoughts. This type of learner is often thorough, independent and logical. They need to understand balance and how to focus on what’s important.
My analytical learner son is a deep thinker. Sometimes I think he’s not listening, but often it turns out that he was pondering and really thinking hard about a subject, and usually comes up with a new way of looking at things. This tendency sometimes makes it hard for him to get things done.
Community Learner: Community learners “talk to the box.” These types of learners generally like engaging in a social way to learn. They like being able to share what they learn and they thrive in group settings. It’s important to work to ensure community learners are also able to work independently.
My son’s teacher recognizes the tendency he has to work well with others, so after he has finished his own work, she often has him help and work with other students. He loves to explain things he is learning, so this works out well for him.
As parents and educators, we know that learning styles are just one piece of the puzzle. Understanding the children we work with can answer questions for us, and help us to give children all the resources they need to thrive.