Learning Challenges

How Does Your Child Learn?

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

A boy with ADHD paints his hand yellow to bolster his kinesthetic learning style.
A boy with ADHD paints his hand yellow to bolster his kinesthetic learning style.

Does your child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) 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.

Learning Strategies for Visual Learners

  • 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.
  • Introduce Scrabble, crossword puzzles, anagrams, and other word games.

Learning Strategies for Auditory Learners

  • 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.
  • 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).

[What’s Your Child’s Cognitive Learning Style?]

Learning Strategies for Tactile/Kinesthetic Learners

  • 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.

[How to Help Learning Happen]