At a Glance
Kids have more than just one “learning style.”
Natural talents and abilities help shape the way kids learn.
Understanding learning strengths can help you find ways to help your child learn and improve skills more effectively.
The idea that different kids learn best in different ways isn’t new. You may have heard it called “learning styles.” Many kids naturally prefer learning in very specific ways. But researchers caution that it’s not appropriate to say a child has one “learning style.” There’s no one all-purpose pathway to learning that’s “right”—or that determines how well a child will do in life.
One of the easiest ways for kids to tackle new tasks or ideas is by using their natural learning strengths. Read on to learn more about helping your child discover what those learning strengths are and how to make the most of them.
What Are Learning Strengths?
Kids don’t approach every new learning task in exactly the same way. But how your child interacts with information probably does fall into patterns that draw on natural talents and preferences. Those patterns are learning strengths, and they are the pathways to learning.
Learning strengths combine talents and abilities with existing skills and knowledge to help kids take in new information. These strengths are ways of thinking, feeling or acting that can be used effectively. For instance, your child may naturally understand how other people are feeling. Or she may know how something works just by taking it apart.
Try a hands-on activity to identify your child’s strengths and create “strengths chain.”
There are many different types of learning strengths. For example, some kids are drawn to words, while some are good with their bodies and movement. Some kids do very well learning new information visually. Other common pathways include learning by listening to information, by finding patterns, and by working with other people. Many people learn best through combinations of these areas of strengths.
The Role of “Thinking Styles”
People have varying levels of natural ability in different areas. Your child’s set of abilities help make up a unique “intelligence fingerprint.” But it’s not the only factor. Another is thinking style. That’s the way kids process the information they take in.
Maybe your child is a reflective thinker. If so, she probably needs time to consider all the aspects of an idea before it makes sense to her. Or your child may be a global thinker. In that case she’s more likely to have sudden “aha!” moments when everything makes sense all at once.
To learn more, see a chart that lays out different thinking styles.
The Importance of a Growth Mindset
Just because kids have a natural ability in one area doesn’t mean they can’t build ability in other areas. It’s important to help your child learn to take on challenges when it comes to learning. Believing that abilities can improve over time despite setbacks is known as a growth mindset.
Help your child build a growth mindset. Download these free activities.
Kids with a growth mindset believe that even when they fail at something, they can eventually succeed. Feedback and what they learn from experience helps them create strategies to improve. This, too, is a strength that affects learning.
How Does Your Child Learn?
Talent, ability, skill, knowledge and thinking style. Looking at them together can help you understand how your child naturally learns.
Take learning to tie shoes, for example. If your child has a talent for thinking in pictures, she may have learned to tie her shoes by watching you do it. If she has a talent for taking things apart and putting them back together, she may have learned by doing it over and over. Whatever your child’s preferred method is, it’s likely she learned to do other things the same way, too. (If your child hasn’t learned to tie shoes yet, watch an expert demonstrate a unique shoe-tying method.)
Knowing your child’s learning strengths is useful when you’re exploring ways to help her learn new information. It can help you find the best studying options for her. And you can use your child’s strengths to help her improve other skills she’s working on, too.
Learn steps you can take to recognize your child’s strengths. Explore ways to help your child discover strengths and passions. And start talking to your child not only about weaknesses, but about strengths, too.
Learning strengths are a mix of talent, ability, skills and knowledge.
“Thinking style” refers to the way kids process new information.
Having a growth mindset can help kids build strengths even in areas where they feel less capable.