Learning Styles

Learning StylesBy Deborah Hagerty

There has never been a homeschool educator quite like Jennifer Hagerty. Every summer was spent researching and creating the most wonderful lesson plans and finding activities to participate in throughout the year. It was a magical education. One summer Jennifer, or as I like to call her, Mom, even took University courses in Latin so that she could teach us! Our world was so full of socratic questioning, beautiful colors (my mother is never without a set of colorful pens), reading, listening, movement (dance parties were the norm) and all types of learning that I didn’t realize until I was an adult exactly how many learning styles I was used to taking in information through.

Now I’m an Occupational Therapist and the owner of a small boutique tutoring company called Erudite Tutors. I spend a lot of my time helping others to learn how to support their own learning the way my mom supported mine!

So, you might ask, what are learning styles and why is it important that I know mine? Learning styles take into account the way that you take in information and how you communicate information to others in order to devise the best way to study! When you are in high school and university, this can be crucial. Time is often short and the amount of content you are expected to ingest can be astronomical.

What learning styles are not: the only way that you can learn. It just supports learning so that you can retain information better and take in information more quickly. Your learning style indicates preferences, not a limit to your strengths. Learning is a skill that must be practiced and perfected.

The VARK Method for Classifying Learning Styles

Visual (V): This preference includes the depiction of information in maps, spider diagrams, charts, graphs, flow charts, and other devices that people use to represent words.

Aural / Auditory (A): This perceptual mode describes a preference for information that is “heard or spoken.” Learners who have this as their main preference report that they learn best from lectures, group discussion, speaking, and talking things through.

Read / Write (R): This preference is for information displayed as words. This preference emphasizes text-based input and output – reading and writing in all its forms but especially manuals, reports, essays and assignments.

Kinesthetic (K): By definition, this modality refers to the “perceptual preference related to the use of experience and practice (simulated or real).” This may include demonstrations, simulations, and videos of “real” things, as well as case studies, practice and applications. The key is the reality or concrete nature of the example. If it can be grasped, held, tasted, or felt it will probably be included.

Multimodality (MM): If a student tests as multi-modal (more than one primary learning style) this may mean that he/she needs to study using a combination of learning preferences in order to process the information effectively or that he/she may learn with each individual strategy effectively. This must be determined on an individual basis. There are two types of MM learners:

  • There are those who are flexible in their communication preferences. They are context specific and choose a single mode to suit the occasion or situation.
  • There are others who are not satisfied until they have had input (or output) in all of their preferred modes. They take longer to gather information across modes and, as a result, they often have a deeper and broader understanding. They may be seen as procrastinators or slow-deliverers but some may be merely gathering all the information before acting – and their decision making and learning may be better because of that breadth of understanding.

A free form of the VARK is available online at https://vark-learn.com. Once you know your learning style, use it to influence your study habits. For example, if you’ve read a textbook paragraph seven times with no luck, try highlighting or reading it out loud. Unfortunately, in our world we don’t always have the luxury of receiving information in the way that is best for us, but what we can do is manipulate what we have.

Learning styles are a fabulous tool. As an educator it can decrease frustration when your students don’t take in information in the same way. As a student it can empower you to ask for time or different forms of information. Feel free to reach out to us for a mini-session to chat about your results and supply you with concrete tools to utilize!

Special Offer from Deb at Erudite Tutors

We’d like to offer Homeschooling Teen readers a discount on individual learning styles mini assessments. The sessions are individual and discussion-based in order to review what their individual learning profile means and provide them with actionable steps and tools to apply that to their studying.

The sessions are 30 minutes and typically $30, but we’d like to offer them to you for $20. In order to receive the discounted rate, email me and mention this article or you can register by going to our website and using the code homeschoolingteen.

How to register for your individual learning styles mini assessment:

  • Email deb [at] eruditetutors.net or go to our website at EruditeTutors.net
  • Use the code homeschoolingteen to receive the discounted rate of $20

The VARK assessment is something we ask students to complete before the mini-session so that the session time can be designated to discussions about what your individual assessment results mean and to provide the student / teacher with practical applications that work for best for them as an individual learner or teacher.

Bio: Deb Hagerty is a life long homeschooler and owner of a boutique tutoring company based in Atlanta, but with online components. She’s passionate about relationship based education and supporting her students in every aspect of their life! When she isn’t working, she loves spending time on the family farm, reading every book with a strong female protagonist that she can get her hands on, and drinking coffee with her fiancé.

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