We use all of our senses when we learn, but different children have different ways of processing what they learn. Some children are more visual learners; they prefer the written word, diagrams, pictures, posters and charts. Some are auditory learners ; they repond well the the spoken word, discussions, sound effects, story tapes. A third group prefers a more hands on,  kinaesthetic approach : movement, design and creating things, drama and role play. Teachers need to take this into account when planning and assessing.

Teaching Visual Learners : Charts, pictures and posters; computer programmes; making and interpreting diagrams; experiments;drawing and  hands on tasks;  hand outs, worksheets and workbooks;  research projects ; making and using maps; organisational, sorting and classifying activites, reading.

Teaching Auditory Learners: Songs and raps; visiting speakers; repetition and rote learning; dictation, discussion and debate; language lab and individual CDs; radio and TV shows; predicting, Q and A sessions, listening comprehensions.

Teaching Kinaesthetic Learners: trial and error and experimentation; drawing, sketching and model making; artefacts and real demonstrations; making and using maps; taking notes  and creating presentation;   

All learning styles respond well to : drama, field trips, games, and interactive whiteboards.

Multiple Intelligences

Don't ask IF the child is intelligent, but rather HOW is the child intelligent?

Howard Gardner ( Gardner 1999) created a list of 7 intelligence,  ways in which we solve problems and make sense of our lives and communities.

Linguistic Intelligence - relating to the written or spoken word ( discussions, opinions, telling stories, asking questions)

Logical-Mathmatical Intelligence -  logical structures, numbers and patterns ( measuring, comparing, experimenting, keeping records)

Visual-Spatial Intelligence - manipulating images, understanding spatial relationships ( spotting differences, researching, modelling)

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence - movement and controlled use of the body (aware of environment, using and adapting, moving)

Musical Intelligence - sensitivity to rhythm and music (copying sounds, dancing, composing)

Interpersonal Intelligence -  relationship to other people, communicating  and predicting responses ( working in teams/pairs, discussing, teaching others)

Intrapersonal Intelligence - senses of self and awareness of own strengths and weaknesses.  ( reflecting,  observing, predicting)

The first two are traditionally  valued in the education system, the next three are seen as 'artistic', and the final two are more personal - but all must be taken into consideration when planning. This will enable the children to acces the learning and participate in a manner best suited to thier individual needs.


Boys and Girls

Gender plays an important part in a child's learning style. The male and female  foetus develops in exactly the same way up until the 12th week of development, at which point the male foetus receives high doses of androgens, especially testosterone. This hormone, together with the day to day levels of serotonin and dopamine make the young male brain react differently to the female brain; more competitive, active, impulsive, risk taking, and with shorter attention spans. The physical differences in the boy's and girl's basal ganglia also effect boys' executive functioning and make them more suseptible to  dyslexia, autism, ADD and ADHD. Today's National Curriculum  focuses on cooperative, non-competitive activities that favour the more feminine brain. (A+B Moir 1998) Teachers must be aware of this slant and try to build in 'boy brain' activities. 

1) Boys need to know the 'Big Picture' ; Why am I doing this? What's the point/purpose? Is it even real? Explain learning objectives to each activity, try to have a real audience for the writing activities, eg if it's writing for a younger child, tell them they will be reading their work to Year 2

2) Allow time to discuss before writing, use 'talking partners' to bounce ideas off.  Boys prefer to think/communicate/write. and give a time limit before hand 'You have 3mins thinking/whiteboard scribbling, 3 mins talking partner time, and 10 minutes writing time till I stop you for first comments - Go!'

3) Remember to use non fiction and artefacts to introduce topics. Set challenges and puzzles that appeal  more to  left brain learners.

See - Improving Boys Performance by Geoff Hannan

... but don't pigeonhole any child as being one side or another ...