Three Distinct Learning Styles for ADHD Children

How to bolster learning for your ADHD child whether he's a visual, auditory or tactile learner.

Tips for Teachers: ADHD children need help speaking in class and presenting their school work

Create hands-on learning experiences.

   
 

How Kids Think

Children differ in the way they conceptualize ideas. “Analytic learners” see the particulars. “Global learners” take a broad view. Each cognitive learning style has its strengths, and each requires a specific kind of support.


An Analytic Learner...

  • works better without distractions, so you should provide a quiet workspace for homework or study. Encourage him to save questions for later to avoid losing his concentration.
  • needs help seeing the relevance in what she’s learning at school. If the teacher doesn’t make such connections, talk about them at home.
  • tunes in to details, but may not see the overall theme. Help her to spot key words in reading material, and prompt her to think about larger concepts and have her practice summarizing material.
  • favors true/false and multiple-choice tests. To help him prepare for essay exams, create practice tests that require lengthy answers.

A Global Learner...

  • has to see the big picture before he can appreciate details. Provide an example of a finished product—a book report or science poster—to let him see “the whole.” To draw his attention to details, specify facts to watch for as he’s reading.
  • leaves tasks unfinished or skips to the “creative part.” Provide a step-by-step checklist to lead her through each assignment.

  • prefers tests that require essay-writing, not a command of facts. Practice strategies—like the process of elimination—that will help him perform well on multiple-choice tests.
 
   

Does your child get more from a story when he sees it in print or when he hears it read aloud? Does he need to draw it or act it out to really understand it? Each child has his or her own learning style — a unique way of taking in and processing information.

Most kids use all of their senses for learning, but favor one sense over the others. “Visual learners” prefer reading or observing. “Auditory learners” do best with talking and listening. “Tactile/kinesthetic learners” benefit most from a hands-on approach.

Good teachers choose instructional methods to accommodate each child’s strengths. You can do the same with your child at home, by tuning in to the ways she learns best.

If your child is a visual learner:

  • Have her type up class notes or homework in typefaces of varying style, color, and size.
  • Use flash cards, drawings, and diagrams to help him study for a test.
  • Ask the teacher to provide homework assignments in writing. At home, make a written list of instructions, schedules, and routines.
  • Introduce Scrabble, crossword puzzles, anagrams, and other word games.

If your child is an auditory learner:

  • Have him read study materials into a cassette recorder as if he were a disc jockey or sports announcer. This will hold his interest when he reviews them for a test.
  • Help her recite multiplication tables and other facts to the rhythm of a favorite song.
  • Allow him to study with a partner or a few classmates.
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  • Look for the audio versions of books she’s reading in class or for pleasure. Your child may be eligible to borrow recorded textbooks from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (rfbd.org) for a modest annual membership fee—or to get non-textbook recordings from the National Library Service at no cost (loc.gov/nls).

If your child is a tactile/kinesthetic learner:

  • Provide blocks, jelly beans, or playing cards to use to compute math problems; give Scrabble pieces or alphabet cereal to spell words.
  • Create hands-on learning experiences — nature hikes, science experiments, and so on.
  • Have her act out scenes from history or literature.
  • Explore various materials and techniques for assignments—a collage, diorama, or clay construction.


This article comes from the Fall 2008 issue of ADDitude.

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