Each individual has several learning styles that create the most effective means of incorporating new information. There are four major learning styles: visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic. Everyone has a primary and at least one secondary learning style they prefer.
Visual is what we see. It may include watching someone perform a skill or seeing material in a video or on a whiteboard. This learning style is often the primary learning style of teachers.
Auditory is what we hear, but should be accompanied by speaking the information if the material is to be effectively learned. Therefore, if a child is listening to a tape of spelling words spelled, the learning needs to be followed by repeating the word and spelling it back aloud.
Both visual and auditory learning methods are used in most classrooms. These two learning styles are easy to use with many students, so teachers find it an easy choice. If a teacher uses only these two methods, however, a significant number of students will not master the information.
Tactile learners prefer hands-on learning – they must do it to retain it. They will incorporate visual and auditory in the learning, but the need to get their hands on something and do it themselves is primary.
Kinesthetic learners are the most challenging because they learn with bodies in motion. If they are still, they often don’t retain the information. This is the most difficult learning style to use in a class, but can easily be incorporated one-on-one.
Very young children learn using all four learning styles. They generally do not pick a primary and secondary style until about age 8. Most people will continue to learn using all four styles throughout their lives, but will choose to incorporate most of their learning in their primary and secondary style.
The most effective teaching method, especially with children, is to use all four styles to cover the material. Spelling words can be written (visual, tactile, kinesthetic) and spoken aloud while walking or dancing (auditory, kinesthetic). He could write them with his finger in a shallow pan with pudding (tasty, tactile, kinesthetic, visual). A child who likes to sing could create a spelling song (visual, auditory).
When material is presented in all four styles, learning is easier and retained longer. When children succeed at learning, they are more likely to want to learn more.